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Turkey: Amnesty director remains in jail ahead of trial


A Turkish court has detained Amnesty International's director in Turkey and five other rights activists pending trial over allegations of links to Kurdish militia and the alleged plotter of last year's attempted coup.

Among them is the director of the Turkish branch of Amnesty International, Idil Eser.

Prosecutors accuse them of "committing a crime in the name of a terror organisation without being a member", it said. Those arrested on Tuesday also included two foreign nationals, a Swedish citizen and a German citizen, who were the workshop trainers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sharply criticised Turkey's detention of German human rights activist Peter Steudtner as "absolutely unjustified", saying the German government would do all it could to secure his release.

That claim was rebuffed by Amnesty International, the rights group that has seen two of its top Turkey officials detained in a month.

Turkish media reports said prosecutors, requesting the arrests, presented as evidence records of their communications with suspects linked to Kurdish and left-wing militants as well as the movement led by US -based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating last year's failed coup attempt.

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.


As part of the ongoing state of emergency - in place in Turkey since last year's coup attempt and recently extended for a fourth time - dozens of civil society organizations and media outlets have been shuttered, and activists and journalists jailed.

"In Turkey, the judiciary is far away from being objective and independent", said Sezgin Tanrikulu, a former human rights lawyer and legislator from the CHP.

Peter Steudtner is the German national who will remain behind bars.

The German Foreign Ministry also condemned the Istanbul court ruling in a separate statement, calling for their "quick release from custody".

Eight of the 10 initially detained are Turkish rights activists, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women's Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

"The global community needs to be engaging with Turkey and articulating this relationship with Turkey as what it is: a relationship with an increasingly rogue and unreliable partner", he said.

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