Turkish Court Convicts Four Rights Activists on terrorism-related Charges

A Turkish court sentenced a former executive of Amnesty International Turkey to more than six years in jail and convicted three other rights activists on terrorism-related charges on Friday, the rights group said.

Amnesty Turkey said on Twitter that seven other defendants, who were detained three years ago during a crackdown following a 2016 attempted coup, were acquitted in a case that fueled concern over Ankara’s human rights record.

“This is an outrage. Absurd allegations. No evidence. After three year trial Taner Kilic convicted for membership of a terrorist organization,” Amnesty representative Andrew Gardner wrote on Twitter as the verdict emerged on the former honorary chairman of Amnesty Turkey.

Three other rights activists were sentenced to two years and one month in jail. Peter Steudtner, a German national, and Ali Gharavi, a Swede, were among the seven acquitted.

Ten of the defendants were detained while they participated in a workshop on digital security held on the island of Buyukada, off the coast of Istanbul, in July 2017.

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The prosecution alleged that the gathering had been a secret meeting to organize an uprising and foment chaos. It alleged they had links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of engineering the 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since the coup attempt, authorities have carried out a sustained crackdown, jailing about 80,000 people and dismissing 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others and closing some 180 media organisations.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, on Friday decried “numerous and systematic” criminal proceedings against human rights defenders as a misuse of the judicial process.

She urged Turkish authorities, including the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, to acknowledge the situation faced by such activists and rectify it as a priority. 

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