Court jails six human-rights activists pending trial
A Turkish court yesterday jailed Amnesty International's Turkey director and five other human rights activists pending trial for allegedly aiding an armed terror group making them the latest suspects in a massive government crackdown initially launched against alleged supporters of last year's failed coup but has since broadened to include government opponents.
In a decision which Amnesty International called a "crushing blow for rights in Turkey," the court in Istanbul also decided to release four other activists from custody pending the outcome of a trial, but barred them from travelling abroad. They will also have to report regularly to the police.
The 10 Amnesty's Turkey director Idil Eser, seven human rights defenders and their German and Swedish trainers were detained in a July 5 police raid on a hotel on the island of Buyukada, off Istanbul, where they were attending a digital security workshop.
The detentions added to the growing concerns over rights and freedoms in the country where the post-coup crackdown has resulted in more than 50,000 arrests and the dismissal of more than 110,000 from government jobs. The crackdown has netted journalists, politicians and activists. Several media outlets and NGOs have been shut down.
"This is not a legitimate investigation, this is a politically motivated witch-hunt that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary general.
He said: "Today we have learnt that standing up for human rights has become a crime in Turkey. This is a moment of truth, for Turkey and for the international community."
Amnesty said the 10 are suspected of "committing crime in the name of a terrorist organisation without being a member."