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Responding to the news that Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained yesterday by police along with 22 other lawyers in Izmir on suspicion of having links with the Fethullah Gülen movement, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling.

“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kiliç along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them.”

Background

Kiliç has served on the board of Amnesty International Turkey for various periods since 2002 and has been chair since 2014. During his decades of work for human rights organizations in Turkey he has consistently demonstrated an unswerving commitment to human rights.

Kiliç was detained from his house in Izmir at 6:30 yesterday morning before being taken to his office. Both properties were searched. He is currently in police custody in Yeşilyurt district of Izmir.

At present, Kiliç’s detention does not seem to be connected to any of Amnesty International’s work, nor to be specifically targeting the organization. The detention order refers to an investigation into suspected members of the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization.” It is currently unclear why Kiliç is suspected of having these links.