Turkish court ordered release of eight human rights activists

Vastavam web: A Turkish court has ordered the release from detention of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International’s director of Turkey Idil Eser, who are on trial over contested terror charges.On the other hand, the court ordered that Amnesty’s Turkey chair Taner Kilic remain in detention, an AFP correspondent at the court said yesterday.The two foreigners are free to leave the country, a defence lawyer told AFP, after the activists are released as expected overnight.
Kilic was detained in June and his case has been merged with that of the other 10 activists as prosecutors claimed he was aware of preparations for the workshop.Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general, said that the rights group could “finally celebrate friends and colleagues” returning to loved ones and their homes, but “any joy is tainted by the ongoing detention” of Kilic.The activists are accused of seeking to wreak “chaos in society” a similar charge to the one brought against anti- government protesters whose demonstrations rocked Turkey in the summer of 2013.
Ozlem Dalkiran, of Citizens’ Assembly, said she read the indictment many times but “as a human rights defender I barely understand how a workshop ends up being linked to aiding an armed terror group.” The charges amplified concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey under the state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup.Ankara blamed the coup attempt on the self-exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who denies the accusations.Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said the case against the human rights defenders was “a completely baseless prosecution that doesn’t have a shred of evidence and doesn’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny”.