A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered that six human rights activists, including Amnesty International‘s (AI) [advocacy website] Turkey Director, remain in custody pending trial for allegedly aiding an armed terrorist group. The activists were arrested [AI press release] on July 5 during a training workshop and are “suspected of ‘committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.'” According to AI:
The bizarre accusations include attempts to link Idil Eser with three unrelated and opposing terrorist organizations through her work for Amnesty International. The prosecutor’s request that she be remanded in pre-trial prison custody references two campaigns by Amnesty International, neither of which were authored by Amnesty Turkey, one of which was conducted before she joined the organization.
Turkish media sources reported [AP report] that prosecutors presented evidence that linked the advocacy group’s communication with US-based Fethullah Gulen [official website], who is accused of orchestrating a failed coup attempt last year. Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [BBC profile] accused the group of being involved in a meeting concerning a continuation of the coup. AI has called for Turkey to release the activists, saying, “This is not a legitimate investigation, this is a politically motivated witch-hunt that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey.” Four of the human rights defenders were released on bail with orders [TIME report] to remain in the country and regularly check in with local authorities.
The aftermath of the failed coup attempt continues as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed [JURIST report] that those involved in the coup would “pay a heavy price.” In May, a trial over the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey began [JURIST report] at a prison courtroom in Sincan. Earlier that week, Erdoğan announced [JURIST report] that the state of emergency temporarily placed on the country after the failed coup would continue until the country reached “welfare and peace.” In November, Turkey significantly halted the activities of 370 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including human rights and children’s groups to investigate the groups’ alleged terror connections [JURIST report]. The president of the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Theodor Meron, demanded [JURIST report] the release of Turkish judge Aydin Sefa Akay in an address to the UN General Assembly. Earlier that month, the Turkish government arrested [JURIST report] eight pro-Kurdish political party members, including the party’s two leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and an additional nine party members. In September, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that approximately 32,000 people have been arrested [JURIST report] and 70,000 have been questioned. In late October, Turkey’s government dismissed 10,000 additional civil servants [JURIST report] and closed 15 more media outlets for their supposed connection with US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating the attempted coup in July.