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Amnesty’s Turkey head charged over alleged Gulen links

The head of Amnesty International in Turkey has been indicted for alleged links to US-based opposition Cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating an abortive coup last year.

According to Press TV, the human rights group made the announcement on Friday, saying that Taner Kilic had been charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” involved in the last July failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kilic was remanded in custody after being detained along with 22 other lawyers in the western city of Izmir last week.

“Human rights defender, Amnesty’s Turkey Chair Taner Kilic remanded in pre-trial detention. No credible evidence presented at hearing. Shame!” Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said on Twitter.

Describing the allegations in a statement as “a mockery of justice,” the UK-based rights group said the court hearing “highlights the devastating impact of the Turkish authorities’ crackdown” in the aftermath of the botched putsch.

“Taner Kilic is a principled and passionate human rights defender. The charges brought against him today are completely without merit. They show just how arbitrary, just how sweeping, the Turkish government’s frenzied pursuit of its perceived enemies and critics has become. He must be released immediately and the charges against him dropped,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Taner’s arrest highlights not just a disregard for human rights, but a desire to target those who defend them. We are calling on all those in Turkey and around the world who care about human rights to speak up for a courageous campaigner who has dedicated his life and now sacrificed his liberty in their cause,” she added.

Turkish authorities also accuse the 46-year-old official of having an encrypted messaging application on his phone, called Bylock, which Ankara claims was especially created for Gulen supporters. Thousands of people have been detained across Turkey on suspicion of using the app.

Amnesty International rejected the accusations against Kilic, saying no evidence had been presented to substantiate the claim over using the secure messaging application.

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