Amnesty chief visits jailed Turkey director in prison

Amnesty chief visits jailed Turkey director in prison
Amnesty International's head visited activists from the human rights group who have been detained since Turkish police raided a hotel outside Istanbul in July where they were attending a workshop.
2 min read
10 September, 2017
Amnesty International's Secretary-General Salil Shetty [Getty]

Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty visited the rights group's jailed Turkey director on Saturday, who was detained along with seven other a by ativists by Turkish authorities in July.

The Amnesty workers and activists are being held due to allegations they aided a "terrorist group", charges the group strongly denies.

Salil Shetty said Amnesty's Turkey Director Idil Eser was doing well but said the real issue is "why is she in prison in the first instance?"

Turkish police raided a hotel on the island of Buyukada close to Istanbul in July and detained 10 activists during a workshop on digital security.

Eight people - including German Peter Steudtner and Swede Ali Gharavi - were arrested. Two were released pending trial after surrendering their passports and must now regularly present themselves at a police station. Germany has repeatedly called for Steudtner's release.

"There is absolutely no evidence against the people who were in the Buyukada workshop," Shetty added.

The activists are being accused of aiding armed groups and communicating with Kurdish and left-wing militants, as well as a movement led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is accused of orchestrating last year's coup attempt, but has repeatedly denied the claim.

Their arrests have added to widespread concerns about the sinking rights and freedoms situation in Turkey. Over 50,000 people have been arrested following the failed July 2016 coup, including journalists and politicians. More than 140 media organisations and nearly 2,000 NGOs have been shuttered.

Shetty said he spoke with Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul to allow Eser's friends to visit her in prison as she has no immediate family.

"I hope that this appeal will reach friendly ears," he said.

Amnesty International Turkey Chairman Taner Kilic was also arrested in June, accused of using an encrypted mobile messaging application allegedly used by Gulen's network.

"Our call is very clear: These are human rights workers. They were doing nothing unlawful, they should be released immediately and unconditionally," Shetty said.