Turkey court rules to keep six rights activists in custody
Istanbul, Turkey - A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered that six human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director remain in custody for allegedly aiding a ‘terror’ group, in a case the rights watchdog called a ‘travesty of justice’.
Idil Eser, head of Amnesty in Turkey, was detained on July 5 with seven activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop on an island south of Istanbul. “Six were remanded in custody and four released on judicial control,” Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner told AFP.
Prosecutors accuse them of ‘committing a crime in the name of a terror organisation without being a member’, he said.
Their detention sparked international alarm and amplified fears of declining freedom of ex- pression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The ruling came a day after the activists, who have not yet been formally charged, gave statements to prosecutors at an Istanbul court for the first time since their detention.
Eight of the ten initially de- tained are Turkish rights activists, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women’s Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association. The other two are a German and a Swede who were leading the digital information workshop and they remain in pre-trial detention.
Berlin slammed as ‘unjustified’ the detention of the German national. “We stand in solidarity with Peter Steudtner whose detention in Turkey is unjustified and will advocate for him on all levels,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted.
The German Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement condemning the detention of the six activists, calling for their ‘quick release from custody’.
A file photo of Idil Eser, head of Amnesty in Turkey