[UPDATE] Turkish court reverses decision to release Amnesty’s Kılıç

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A group of human rights activists gather outside the Çağlayan courthouse in Istanbul on January 31, 2018 as the trial of eleven human rights activists resumes, including the two top figures with Amnesty International in Turkey and two foreigners, on terror charges in a case that has sparked international alarm. The placards refer to Amnesty International head for Turkey, Taner Kılıç, who has been detained accused of links to the group blamed for the 2016 coup. / AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL

An Istanbul court on Thursday reversed its decision to release Taner Kılıç, chairman of the board of Amnesty International Turkey, local media reported.

The Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court on Wednesday ordered the conditional release of Kılıç, who has been in prison since June 9 on terrorism charges. But he was detained again late on Wednesday when a prosecutor appealed Kılıç’s release to the Istanbul 36th High Criminal Court. On Thursday, the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court reversed its decision and ruled to arrest him again.

“A disgrace and an outrageous travesty of justice: the Istanbul court has reversed its decision and will keep #TanerKılıç in detention,” Salil Shetty, secretary-general of AI tweeted in reaction to the decision.

“A devastating blow for Taner, his family, and all who stand for justice in #Turkey. This will only strengthen our resolve to fight for him,” Salil added.

A lawyer, a founding member of AI Turkey and chairman of its board of directors since 2014, Kılıç was arrested by an İzmir court on June 9 along with 22 other attorneys as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.

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

An İstanbul court on Oct. 25 ruled to release eight human rights activists, including Eser.
On Oct. 26, a court in Izmir ruled for the continuation of the pre-trial detention of Kılıç while combining his case with the activists’ Büyükada case.

Kılıç is the only suspect still jailed in the Büyükada case.

The prosecutor alleged a range of charges, including aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of being behind a failed coup last year.

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.

On July 11, the pro-government Star daily accused human rights defenders detained in Turkey of being linked to US intelligence agency the CIA and the UK’s MI6, while another pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, on July 23 claimed that the rights activists had ties to the German BND intelligence service.

Another staunchly pro-government daily, Güneş, said on July 21 that the human rights activists were plotting a coup attempt when they were detained by Turkish police.

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