An Istanbul court on July 18 ordered that six human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director be arrested for aiding a terror group, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Turkey director Idil Eser was detained on July 5 along with seven other activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop on Büyükada, an island south of Istanbul.
“Six were remanded in custody and four released on judicial control,” Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner told AFP.
Prosecutors accuse them of “committing a crime in the name of a terror organization without being a member,” he said.
The ruling came a day after the activists gave statements to prosecutors for the first time since their detention.
Eight of those detained were Turkish rights activists, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women’s Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association. Four of those have now been released, Gardner said.
Two foreigners – a German and a Swedish national who were leading the digital information workshop – remain in pre-trial detention.
“It is politically motivated targeting not just of these six human rights defenders who have been remanded in pre-trial prison custody but it is taking aim at Turkey’s entire human rights movement,” Gardner told AFP.
“What we’ve learnt today is that defending human rights has become a crime in Turkey,” Gardner added.
“After this decision none of us who defend human rights in Turkey, whether it is Amnesty International or other organizations, are safe in this country. This decision cannot be allowed to stand.”
Gardner earlier said the meeting on Büyükada had been a “routine” workshop and there was nothing suspicious about it.
“What is absolutely crystal clear, one hundred percent clear is this was a routine human rights workshop – the sort of workshop that happens all over Turkey, in fact the sort of workshop that happens all over the world,” he said.