ISTANBUL—An Istanbul court decided on Wednesday to conditionally release 10 human rights defenders while their trial continues. A court in Izmir, however, decided not to release human rights defender and Chair of Amnesty International in Turkey Taner Kılıç.
“Today, finally, we celebrate that our friends and colleagues can go back with their loved ones and can sleep in their own beds for the first time in almost four months,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. “But any joy is tainted by the ongoing detention of Amnesty International’s chair, Taner Kılıç,” he added.
In a statement, Shetty said the politically motivated prosecutions are an attempt to silence critical voices within Turkey. He also said the trials highlight the importance of human rights and those who dedicate their lives to defending them. “The release of the Istanbul 10 late last night restored some faith in Turkey’s justice system. Today, that faith has been washed away,” Shetty noted. “The twin hands of Turkey’s fickle justice system are at play: one grants liberty, the other takes it away.”
Turkish authorities have repeatedly and publicly presumed Kılıç’s guilt, on the basis of innuendo and unsupported allegations, Shetty said. “Tonight we take a brief moment to celebrate, but tomorrow we will continue our struggle,” he added. “We will not stop until the charges are dropped and all of them are free.”
The 10 activists, including Director of Amnesty Turkey İdil Eser, were arrested on July 5 during a digital security and information management workshop in Büyükada, Istanbul. Kılıç was arrested a month earlier on accusations of “membership in a terrorist organization.”