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German, Swedish rights activists leave Turkey after release from prison

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German citizen Peter Frank Steudtner and Swedish national Ali Gharavi, who were released on Wednesday after 112 days in jail along with six other human rights activists, left Turkey on Thursday, the T24 news website reported.

The two rights activists departed Turkey from İstanbul Atatürk Airport.

An İstanbul court on Wednesday ruled to release eight human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director İdil Eser, who had been in pretrial detention since July 5 over alleged terror links.

According to the decision, Steudtner, Gharavi, Günal Kurşun, Eser, Özlem Dalkıran, Nalan Erkem and Veli Acu were released pending trial. Four other suspects are also being tried as part of same case without pretrial detention.

On July 5 Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained Eser from AI, İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmus Özbekli, Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association and two foreign trainers, Gharavi and Steudtner.

During a press conference in Hamburg on July 8 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the human rights defenders of plotting a follow-up to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt and signaled that the detention of the rights defenders could turn into imprisonment.

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