Amnesty Chair Re-Arrested in Turkey After Court Orders Release

(CN) — Authorities re-arrested an Amnesty International official Wednesday in Turkey after a court ordered his release earlier that day.

Confirming news of the reports after they caught fire on social media, Amnesty International’s senior adviser and researcher on Turkey said the court’s order to release its Turkey chair, Taner Kilic, prompted an appeal from the prosecutor.

“We don’t know if the appeal court has made a decision,” Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner tweeted Wednesday. “What we do know is that there has been an arrest warrant issued and that Taner has been taken out of prison and into Gendarmerie custody.”

In Turkey, the Gendarmerie General Command is a service branch of the national armed forces.

Turkish authorities first arrested Kilic in June, alleging terrorist ties that rest largely on an obscure, encrypted-messaging app called ByLock.

Though critics dispute this link, Turkish prosecutors associate the app with supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom Turkey says orchestrated the 2016 failed coup attempt.

Amnesty has called the charges against Kalic “baseless,” however, noting that two independent forensic examinations showed no trace of the application on Kilic’s phone.

BBC News reported applause and shouts of joy in an Istanbul courtroom Wednesday after a judge ordered Kalic to be released pending trial.

Kilic would have had to regularly report to a police station until his verdict, but his freedom was short-lived.

Before Kilic was taken back into custody this afternoon, Amnesty International’s Europe director Gauri van Gulik called it “an enormous relief that Taner will soon be back with his wife and daughters, sleeping in his own bed for the first time in almost eight months.”

“But we cannot forget that many other innocent people remain behind bars without a shred of evidence in Turkey,” she added.

Van Gulik said that the case against Kilic and 10 other civil-society activist follows a pattern.

“These unfounded prosecutions are an attempt to silence critical voices within Turkey but have only served to highlight the importance of human rights and those who dedicate their lives to defending them,” van Gulik said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up his clampdown on his critics since his military began its offensive against Kurdish fighters in the Syrian city of Afrin.

The government prompted outrage from physicians’ associations around the world on Tuesday when it detained 11 central council members of the Turkish Medical Association for releasing a statement stating that “War Is a Matter of Public Health.”

Reporters Without Borders has also blasted the Turkish government’s “witch hunt against critics,” expressing alarm at hundreds detained for tweets in a country already ranked 155th in the media group’s most recent press freedom index.

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