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More than two years after they were first detained, the honorary chair, the former director of Amnesty International and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted of the absurd charges they still face, said Amnesty International ahead of their next trial hearing which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul.

Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, is being tried alongside İdil Eser, the organization’s former Turkey director and nine other human rights defenders, known as the Istanbul 10, on baseless allegations of “membership of a terrorist organization.”

“After months in jail and years before the courts, the prosecution has failed to present any credible evidence to substantiate the absurd charges made against Taner and the Istanbul 10,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Instead, the baseless accusations against them have been comprehensively demolished over the course of nine hearings. And yet the threat of conviction still hangs over them.”

Taner Kılıç spent more than 14 months in prison before his release on bail in August 2018. Eight of the Istanbul 10 spent almost four months each behind bars before they were bailed in October 2017.

“The egregious injustice that our colleagues and friends have experienced for more than two years is common to hundreds of human rights defenders in Turkey who spend their days either languishing in jail or living in constant fear of prosecution,” said Kumi Naidoo.

The Istanbul 10 and Taner must be acquitted, and all those jailed merely for defending human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

The hearing will begin at 7:00 a.m. GMT, 10.00 a.m. local time, on November 27 at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, No 35.

An international delegation of senior Amnesty International representatives from around the world are attending the hearing in Istanbul including: Kerry Moscogiuri, Campaigns Director of AI UK; John Peder Egenaes, Director of AI Norway; Anna Lindenfors, Director of AI Sweden; and Gaberiele Stein, Chair Amnesty International Germany.

BACKGROUND

The prosecution has failed to produce any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, let alone ‘terrorism’, during more than two years of this prosecution.

Three of the human rights defenders on trial who are lawyers (Taner Kılıç Nalan Erkem and Şeyhmus Özbekli) could also lose their licences to practice law after a conviction for a terrorist offence.

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