More than one million people from 194 countries have demanded the release of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç and the dropping of charges against him and 10 other human rights defenders as their trial resumes in Istanbul on January 31.
The 11 face trumped up “terrorism” charges in what can only be described as a politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within Turkey. If convicted they could face jail terms of up to 15 years.
“With overwhelming evidence of his innocence and none of any wrongdoing Taner’s release is long overdue. The fact that he has spent almost eight months behind bars speaks volumes about Turkey’s flawed justice system and the government’s ruthless pursuit of those who stand up for human rights,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.
“Today’s hearing offers yet another opportunity to end this glaring miscarriage of justice allowing this principled and passionate human rights defender to return to his family and resume his vital work. The court must acquit Taner and the other 10 human rights defenders and end this farce once and for all.”
Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was detained on June 6, 2017 and sent to jail three days later, where he has been ever since. Ten other activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, were detained a month later. Eight of them were held for almost four months before being released on bail at their first hearing in October.
They are all accused of “membership of a terrorist organization”, a baseless allegation for which the prosecution has yet to provide any concrete evidence that would stand up to scrutiny.
Taner Kılıç is alleged to have downloaded and used the ByLock messaging application, which the prosecution has claimed was used by the Gülen movement to communicate with each other. However, two independent forensic analyses of Taner’s phone commissioned by Amnesty International found that there is no trace of ByLock ever having been on his phone. So far, the prosecution have not provided any evidence to prove their claim and demonstrate any criminal wrongdoing.
Last month, Turkish authorities admitted that thousands of people have been wrongly accused of downloading ByLock. They published lists containing the numbers of 11,480 mobile phone users, leading to mass releases. Taner Kılıç is not yet among those listed for release.
More than a million people from 194 countries and territories have signed Amnesty International appeals demanding the release of Taner Kılıç and the other human rights defenders in Turkey since their arrest last summer. Scores of well-known figures have called for the release of Taner and the dropping of charges against the Istanbul 10.