Jan 31 2018

Turkish court releases Amnesty chair after 7 months

A Turkish court ordered the conditional release of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç, who was detained last June and charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation.

Kılıç was charged in relation to the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and accused of being member of “FETÖ” or the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation” – the name Turkey uses for the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkey accuses Gülen of masterminding the coup, and Turkish prosecutors say an encrypted chat app called ByLock were used between Gülenists.

Tens of thousands of Turkish mobile phone users were detained for allegedly using the app after Turkish law enforcement provided a list of users which connected to app’s servers. Forensic experts later found out that thousands of users were wrongly blacklisted.

Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said Kılıç’s lawyers presented evidence that the Amnesty’s Turkey chair did not use the app during the trial.

The court released Kılıç on bail. But he is banned to travel outside of Turkey and will have to visit a police station every week.

This week, Amnesty collected over one million signatures in a petition for Kılıç’s release.

The cases against the activists are “politically motivated” and aimed at “silencing critical voices within Turkey,” the rights group said.