01 February 2018 19:21

Amnesty International's chairman in Turkey rearrested just hours after release

A court in İstanbul has reversed its decision to release Taner Kılıç, the chairman of Amnesty International in Turkey, ordering him to stay in jail.

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Amnesty International's chairman in Turkey remained in custody - a day after an İstanbul court ordered his conditional release - after a prosecutor appealed to a different court for his detention to be renewed, the rights group said. Taner Kılıç has been in custody since his arrest last June on "terrorism-related" charges.

Taner Kılıç and 10 other human rights activists, including Amnesty International Turkey's director, İdil Eser, went on trial in October accused of aiding groups that Turkey describes as "armed terrorist organizations." Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people, including journalists, activists and opposition political figures, following an attempted military coup in 2016.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General, said:

"Over the last 24 hours, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey.

“This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms.

“This is the latest example of the crisis in Turkey’s justice system that is ruining lives and hollowing out the right to a fair trial. By riding roughshod over justice and ignoring the overwhelming evidence of his innocence his re-detention only deepens our resolve to continue to fight on Taner’s case.

“One million voices have already called for his release. He should never have been arrested, and we will not rest until he is free.”

Andrew Gardner, a senior Amnesty researcher on Turkey, tweeted that Kılıç was transferred from prison custody to gendarmerie custody late Wednesday.
The rights group expects him to be brought soon to an İzmir court and then transferred back to the prison custody on the basis of the İstanbul court's decision to accept the prosecutor's appeal and renew Kılıç's detention, he said.

Amnesty International's Europe director Gauri van Gulik, who on Wednesday had welcomed news of the İstanbul court's decision to order Kılıç's release, vowed to continue to fight for his freedom in the face of "odd legal maneuvers" by the Turkish authorities.
"Our jubilation turns into despair: Taner kept in detention, court order reversed release decision late last night," she tweeted.
"His family waited outside prison all day, to no avail. Devastated for them and for what this means for Turkey's rule of law. We won't stop until he's out."
Amnesty has said it will continue the fight to have all charges dropped against the 11 activists, whose trial continues. The others were detained but were released earlier.
The activists are accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK and "FETÖ", a term used by the Turkish government to describe supporters of Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in the United States and blamed for orchestrating the attempted coup. (EVRENSEL DAILY)