ISTANBUL Turkish police detained 12 people, including the Turkey head of rights group Amnesty International, Idil Eser, and other rights activists at a meeting on an island near Istanbul, media said on Thursday.
They had gathered at a hotel on Buyukada island, just south of Turkey’s largest city, when they were taken to a police station on Wednesday, the Hurriyet newspaper said. It was not clear why they were held.
Amnesty called for the group’s release, saying it was “profoundly disturbed and outraged” at the detentions during a digital security and information management workshop.
Police were not immediately available to comment.
Among those detained were Eser and seven other human rights defenders, two foreign trainers – a German and a Swedish national – as well as the hotel owner, Amnesty’s statement said.
“This is a grotesque abuse of power and highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists in the country,” said Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty.
In a security crackdown following an attempted coup in July 2016, Turkey has jailed more than 50,000 people pending trial, with 150,000 suspended or dismissed from their jobs.
More than 240 people were killed in the failed putsch and the government has said the security measures are necessary given the gravity of the threats facing Turkey.
(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)