Amnesty Turkey Chair Taner Kilic Remains in Jail

A Turkish court decided to keep Taner Kilic, chair of international human rights group Amnesty International’s Turkey branch, in jail, dismissing calls for his release at a hearing on Thursday.

He was detained this summer along with a number of other AI workers over charges of terrorism and taking part in a failed coup last year. He is also being accused of having links to Gulen Movement.

Mr. Kilic has become the only Amnesty worker in pre-detention trial after Izmir court ruled to release eight human rights activists, including Amnesty’s Turkey director Idil Eser, German citizen Peter Steudtner and Sweedish national Ali Gharavi late last month.

The issue has become a source of international criticism and condemnation for Turkey. Regarding the case against Amnesty International leaders, the French Ministry expressed its commitment to the right to a fair trial.

France calls on Turkey to comply with its European and international commitments, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

Eleven members of Amnesty International Turkey stand trial on same charges. Amnesty launched a campaign to press Mr. Kilic and other defendants’ release. A group of more than 70 musicians, artists, human rights activists and political figures have called on Turkey to drop terrorism charges against Amnesty Turkey team.

Internationally famous stars Sting and Peter Gabriel, Edward Snowden, a whistle-blower who unveiled vast structure of surveillance by NSA and artist Ai Weiwei signed the open letter to call for the release of AI workers, the organization said on Wednesday.

Separately,  more than 30 U.K. MPs have signed a parliamentary motion, calling for the release of Mr. Kilic while 22 members of the U.S. Congress, including 14 Senators, as well as the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the Chair of the Human Rights Committee in the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri, have made similar calls in that regard.

All those efforts, for the moment, appear to be yielding no result.

Andrew Gardner, a Turkey researcher for Amnesty International, sharply criticized the court ruling.

“Really this flies in the face of all reason. There is a wealth evidence that he was innocent of all charges,” Mr. Gardner said.

“There was frankly nothing to suggest he was guilty,” he added.

The next hearing will be on Jan. 31 next year, adding to the agony of Mr. Kilic’s family. His daughter called for her father’s release ahead of the hearing on Wednesday.

“Really, it’s a pretty desperate day for justice in Turkey,” Mr. Gardner said.

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