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Amnesty says Turkish FM’s ‘baseless allegations’ threaten human rights movement

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In response to statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu in Brussels on Tuesday, Amnesty International’s (AI) Europe Director John Dalhuisen has said the entire human rights movement is threatened by the foreign minister’s baseless allegations.

Criticizing Çavuşoğlu’s remarks, which came during a press conference with High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Dalhuisen said:
““The absurd case against Idil Eser is not based on any nefarious activities but instead rests entirely upon the legitimate work of Amnesty International. If this work is criminalized, it is hard to see how the organization – or indeed the wider human rights movement in Turkey – can continue to function.”

Six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey Director İdil Eser and German human rights consultant Peter Steudtner, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada, were put in pre-trial detention by an İstanbul court on July, 18.

“Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement by the Foreign Minister that Amnesty International are regarded as ‘a credible global organization,’ his assertion that we will be ‘able to conduct activities freely’ is a bold claim in light of the fact that both the director and the chair of Amnesty International Turkey are languishing behind bars alongside seven other human rights activists,” added Dalhuisen.

Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and chairman of AI’s Turkey’s board, was arrested on June 9, accused of using an application called ByLock on his phone, which according to Turkish government is an evidence of having links to the alleged mastermind of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Fethullah Gülen, who has denied any involvement.

Dismissing Kılıç’s arrest on charges of using ByLock as baseless, Dalhuisen said: “Equally, the unfounded allegation that has landed Taner Kiliç in jail — that he downloaded and used Bylock on his phone – is false, and we will show it. The vital work done by Amnesty International and the people who undertake that work cannot be separated. They are indivisible, and we will fight to secure their release.”

While two of four human rights defenders who were previously detained and released earlier this week in İstanbul were taken into custody again on Saturday, two other rights activists were freed on Tuesday on judicial probation subject to an international travel ban.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a press conference on July 8 accused the human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

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