Amnesty chief in Turkey remanded in custody

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The chair of Amnesty International’s Turkey branch has been remanded in custody, following a court hearing, drawing strong condemnation from human rights organisations.

“Imprisonment of our Turkey Chair is mockery of justice,” Amnesty’s Turkey researcher, Andrew Gardner, said in a statement released on Saturday about the hearing the night before.

Taner Kilic, the head of the branch, was detained this week by anti-terror police in an early morning raid in Izmir province.

Kilic was alleged of having links to those who carried out an abortive military coup in 2016.

Human Rights Watch, the New York-based group, also condemned the moves against Kilic.

“Jailing Amnesty Turkey head pending trial on membership of terrorist group shows again the horror show of Turkey’s courts,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, the group’s Turkey expert, said on her Twitter feed.

Kilic was one of almost 20 lawyers detained in the Izmir raid.

One was released on bail in the hearing, while the rest are waiting to see a judge or were formally arrested.

Turkey’s government blames U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for the bloody coup attempt and has carried out sweeping purges of the civil service and made mass arrests.

Some 50,000 people are in jail on allegations of having links to Gulenists.

A report says Gulen, however, denies links to the coup and remains in the U.S., where authorities have so far declined Turkey’s request for extradition, citing a lack of evidence.

“Taner Kilic is neither a supporter nor a follower of the Fethullah Gulen movement and has in fact been critical of its role in Turkey,” Salil Shetty, the head of Amnesty International, said defending Kilic.

The U.S. and EU have been sharply critical of Kilic’s detention. (dpa/NAN)

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