Turkey arrests Amnesty International's country chairman over alleged Gulen links
The head of Amnesty International in Turkey was charged late Friday over suspected links to the movement of a Muslim cleric blamed by authorities for last year's failed coup, the human rights group said.
Taner Kilic was remanded in custody after being detained Tuesday with 22 other lawyers based in the western province of Izmir.
"Human rights defender, Amnesty Turkey chair Taner Kilic remanded in pre-trial detention. No credible evidence presented at hearing. Shame!" Amnesty's Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said on Twitter.
The rights group said Kilic was charged with "membership of a terrorist organisation", describing the allegations in a statement as "a mockery of justice" that "highlights the devastating impact of the Turkish authorities' crackdown".
Turkey has launched a huge crackdown on alleged supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who authorities accuse of ordering the failed military coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last July.
Since then, authorities have arrested over 50,000 people including teachers, academics and civil servants accused of links to the Gulen movement.
Over 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the public sector under a state of emergency imposed after foiled putsch.
Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999 in Pennsylvania, strongly denies any involvement in the coup.
Authorities accuse Kilic of having an encrypted messaging application on his phone in August 2014 called Bylock, which Ankara claims was especially created for Gulen supporters. Thousands of people have been detained across Turkey on suspicion of using the app.
Amnesty rejected the accusations against Kilic, saying no evidence was presented to substantiate the claim.
"Kilic denies ever having downloaded or used Bylock, or even having heard of it, until its alleged use was widely publicised in connection with recent detentions and prosecutions."
Eight of the lawyers detained alongside him on Tuesday have also been remanded in custody.
"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," Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty said.
The rights group has heavily criticised the Turkish crackdown, accusing Ankara last month of implementing "arbitrary dismissals" of public sector workers in a series of purges.