Ac­tivists’ de­ten­tion ex­tended

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

ISTANBUL: Turkey ex­tended the de­ten­tion of eight lead­ing Turk­ish hu­man rights ac­tivists and two for­eign con­sul­tants yes­ter­day, ac­cord­ing to Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

The group were de­tained last week when po­lice raided a ho­tel in Istanbul where they were hold­ing a con­fer­ence, which was fo­cused on de­fend­ing hu­man rights work­ers in cri­sis.

Among those brought into cus­tody were the Swedish and Ger­man con­sul­tants and Idil Eser, the di­rec­tor of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Turkey branch.

Eser’s home was searched on Mon­day, with po­lice seiz­ing com­puter equip­ment, said An­drew Gard­ner, Amnesty’s Turkey re­searcher who con­demned the “base­less de­ten­tions”.

The pro-govern­ment news­pa­per Ak­sam said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was look­ing into whether the hu­man rights ac­tivists were mem­bers of an “armed ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion”.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, when pressed on the is­sue by re­porters dur­ing the G20 sum­mit in Ger­many over the week­end, claimed the de­tained ac­tivists had met for a “con­tin­u­a­tion” of last year’s abortive coup.

He also said the ju­di­ciary was in­de­pen­dent and would de­cide the case.

Sus­pects can be held for up to two weeks with­out see­ing a judge, ac­cord­ing to the rules gov­ern­ing the coun­try.

The chair­per­son of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Turkey branch was ar­rested last month along with more than a dozen other lawyers.

As part of the state of emer­gency in place since the failed coup, dozens of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions have been shut down, and ac­tivists and jour­nal­ists jailed. – dpa

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