Amnesty International’s (AI) honorary chair in Turkey Taner Kılıç was released on Wednesday pending trial after a monthly review of his imprisonment by the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court, the T24 news website reported.
“The release pending trial was ordered after the situation of Taner Kılıç, who was arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, was reviewed,” the court statement said.
Kılıç was detained on June 5, 2017 along with 11 human rights activists who were at the time present at a meeting on Büyükada, one of İstanbul’s Prince’s Islands.
The pro-government media depicted the Büyükada meeting as a follow-up to a failed coup on July 15, 2016. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated these claims a few days after the detention of the activists.
The 11 activists were released by the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court in October and Kılıç was released in late January; however, upon an objection by the prosecutor, the İstanbul 36th High Criminal Court ordered the re-arrest of Kılıç due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Kılıç was accused of using the ByLock smart phone application, which was, according to Turkish authorities, a communication tool among members of the movement.
The Turkish government believes the Gülen movement was behind the coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies it.
“We are overjoyed at this news. It has taken us more than a year of campaigning and struggle to get here, but it appears that Taner will finally be freed. Whilst we rejoice at this decision, our celebrations will only truly begin when he is safely back at home in the arms of his wife and daughters,” Kumi Naidoo, the new secretary-general of AI, said in a statement.
“But beneath the smiles of joy and relief there will be sorrow, anger and a steely determination. Sorrow for all the things Taner has missed during his cruel incarceration. Anger that the baseless charges against him and the Istanbul 10 have not been dropped. And determination to continue our fight for human rights in Turkey and for the release of all those human rights defenders, journalists and others who have been unjustly jailed in the vicious crackdown.”