Turkey court rules to keep six rights ac­tivists in cus­tody

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

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.

‘Un­jus­ti­fied’

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

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