US ‘deeply troubled’ by arbitrary detentions, prosecutions in Turkey

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Heather Nauert, the US State Department spokesperson, said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the United States is “deeply troubled” by the detention of human rights defenders, journalists, civil society leaders and opposition politicians in Turkey, adding that their prosecution raises serious concerns about judicial independence and due process in the country.

“ … the United States is deeply troubled by the February 1 rearrest by Turkish authorities of the Amnesty International Turkey chairman, Taner Kılıç. He’s been in pretrial detention since June of 2017. We’re closely following his case along with those against other respected human rights defenders, journalists, civil society leaders and opposition politicians whose ongoing prosecution under the state of emergency has chilled freedom of expression and raises serious concerns about respect for judicial independence and the due process protections enshrined in the Turkish constitution,” she said.

Kılıç, a lawyer, a founding member of AI Turkey and chairman of its board of directors since 2014, was arrested by an İzmir court on June 9 as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. The court ruled in October to continue his pretrial detention.

The Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court on Jan. 1 ordered the conditional release of Kılıç, but he was detained again late that same day when a prosecutor appealed Kılıç’s release to the Istanbul 36th High Criminal Court. On Feb.1 the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court reversed its decision and ruled to arrest him again.

“We call on the Turkish government to end the protracted state of emergency, to release those detained arbitrarily under the emergency authorities and to safeguard the rule of law consistent with Turkey’s own domestic and international obligations and commitments,” Nauert added.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016 under a state of emergency declared following the coup attempt. The interior minister announced on Dec. 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. The following day the Justice Ministry said 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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