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Taner Kılıç re-arrested

Status: 
Sentenced
About the Situation

On 3 July 2020, the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court handed down its ruling in the case of eleven human rights defenders who had been on trial since 25 October 2017. The court sentenced Taner Kılıç to 6 years 3 months imprisonment for “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” while Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran were sentenced to 1 year 13 months (sic) imprisonment for “aiding an armed terrorist organisation knowingly and willingly”. The organisation in question was named by the Turkish government as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY).

On 15 August 2018, Taner Kılıç was released upon the decision of Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court, rendered following its regular monthly case review. He was in detention for over 14 months. Taner Kılıç, alongside ten other human rights defenders, face charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” and, if found guilty, faces up to 15 years in prison. The criminal proceedings remain ongoing, and Taner Kılıç was given a travel ban.

On 31 January 2018, Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court ordered the release of Taner Kılıç, the Section Chair of Amnesty International Turkey. The prosecutor then lodged an appeal to contest this decision and on 1 February 2018, Taner Kılıç was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention ahead of the next hearing of his case which is scheduled to take place on 21 June 2018.

About Taner Kılıç

taner_kilic.jpgTaner Kılıç is a lawyer, human rights defender, the former chair and the honorary president of  Amnesty International Turkey. He is also one of the co-founders of Amnesty International Turkey. He is well known for his work on refugee rights in Turkey and was previously the chair of an NGO called Mültecilerle Dayanışma Derneği (Association for Solidarity with Refugees) in İzmir from 2008 to 2014.

8 July 2020
Four human rights defenders sentenced, seven acquitted in Büyükada case

On 3 July 2020, the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court handed down its ruling in the case of eleven human rights defenders who had been on trial since 25 October 2017. The court sentenced Taner Kılıç to 6 years 3 months imprisonment for “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” while Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran were sentenced to 1 year 13 months (sic) imprisonment for “aiding an armed terrorist organisation knowingly and willingly”. The organisation in question was named by the Turkish government as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY).

The court acquitted Ali Gharavi, İlknur Üstün, Nalan Erkem, Peter Steudtner and Şeyhmus Özbekli. Veli Acu and Nejat Tastan were also acquitted, against a request from the prosecutor.

The decision did not come unanimously. One of the three judges of the panel opposed the verdict, saying that all four defendants should have been acquitted as the accusations against them were not substantiated. He is expected to detail his dissenting opinion in the justified verdict. The four human rights defenders will appeal the ruling.

The judgement came three years after the arrest of 10 human rights defenders during a workshop in Buyukada, Istanbul and seven months after the prosecutor submitted his final assessment, requesting the conviction of six human rights defenders.

During the previous hearing held on 19 February 2020, the court had adjourned the hearing after permitting only six of eleven defenders to present their statements. The next hearing was set to take place on 3 April 2020 but then postponed to 3 July due to the pandemic restrictions. During the final hearing, the remaining four human rights defenders presented their final statements

All human rights defenders and lawyers reminded the court that all allegations against the defenders were unverified and discredited by both forensic experts and through evidence presented by the defence which were ignored by the prosecution.

In their statements, the human rights defenders referred to the regional and international standards for the protection of human rights defenders and said that the “Buyukada trial is a clear warning to civil society saying that working for justice, human rights and freedoms are not welcome and will not be tolerated.”

Front Line Defenders condemns the convictions which are based on fabricated and unfounded evidence and a trial lacking due process. It calls on the Turkish government to stop the persecution of human rights defenders, civil society and journalists.

16 August 2018
Taner Kılıç released

On 15 August 2018, Taner Kılıç was released upon the decision of Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court, rendered following its regular monthly case review. He was in detention for over 14 months. Taner Kılıç, alongside ten other human rights defenders, face charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” and, if found guilty, faces up to 15 years in prison. The criminal proceedings remain ongoing, and Taner Kılıç was given a travel ban.

The human rights defender was arrested on 6 June 2017. On 31 January 2018, Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court ordered his release; however, this order was revoked by the Istanbul’s 36th High Criminal Court before he was released. The charges against Taner Kılıç are based on the testimony of an anonymous witness, who stated - during the hearing on 21 June 2018 - that he overheard allegedly incriminating conversations. The charges are also based on the alleged downloading of a secure messaging app called ByLock and the fact that he opened an account with Bank Asya, which the authorities consider to be linked to the Gülen movement. During the same hearing of 21 June, a second police report was submitted confirming the findings of the first report and those of four independent forensic analyses, all of which found no trace of ByLock on Taner Kılıç’s phone. Despite the lack of reliable evidence supporting his detention, the court refused to release him at that time.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Taner Kılıç, it condemns the false charges against him and the ten other human rights defenders who have come to be known as the ‘Istanbul 10’. It urges the authorities in Turkey to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Taner Kılıç and the Istanbul 10 as it is believed that they are solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights.

22 June 2018
Update: Ongoing detention of Taner Kılıç

On 21 June 2018, the fourth hearing of Taner Kılıç and 10 human rights defenders known as the Istanbul 10 was held in Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court. The request by Taner Kılıç’s lawyer to release him was refused by the court despite the lack of evidence supporting his detention. The next hearing is scheduled for 7 November 2018.

Taner Kılıç, a human rights lawyer and the former Chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested on 6 June 2017. He and the 10 human rights defenders were charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” and, if found guilty, they face up to 15 years in prison. On 31 January 2018, Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court ordered the release of Taner Kılıç; however, this order was revoked by the Istanbul’s 36th High Criminal Court, before he was released, upon the request of the Prosecutor’s Office. Taner Kılıç is currently the only suspect in this case who is still detained.

The charges against Taner Kılıç are based on the testimony of an anonymous witness, who stated during the hearing that he overheard allegedly incriminating conversations during a visit to the toilet. The charges are also based on the alleged downloading of a secure messaging app called ByLock and the fact that he opened an account with Bank Asya, which is allegedly linked to the Gülen movement. During the hearing, a second police report was submitted confirming the findings of the first report and that of four independent forensic analyses, which found no trace of ByLock on Taner Kılıç’s phone. Despite the lack of reliable evidence supporting his detention, the court ruled against his release. Taner Kılıç, who has been held in İzmir Şakran Prison, joined the hearing via video call.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the ongoing detention of Taner Kılıç and the false accusations against him and 10 human rights defenders. It urges the authorities in Turkey to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Taner Kılıç and Istanbul 10 and release Taner Kılıç, as it is believed that he is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights.

5 February 2018
Taner Kılıç re-arrested

On 31 January 2018, Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court ordered the release of Taner Kılıç, the Section Chair of Amnesty International Turkey. The prosecutor then lodged an appeal to contest this decision and on 1 February 2018, Taner Kılıç was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention ahead of the next hearing of his case which is scheduled to take place on 21 June 2018.

Download Urgent Appeal

On 31 January 2018, the third hearing of the human rights defenders known as the Istanbul 10, along with Amnesty International’s Turkey Section Chair, Taner Kılıç, concluded in Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court.

The Court ordered the release of Taner Kılıç under travel ban and exempted the Istanbul 10 from attending future hearings. The next hearing was scheduled to take place on 21 June 2018. However, the prosecutor appealed the Court’s decision to the superior Istanbul 36th High Criminal Court which then issued an arrest warrant for Taner Kılıç. He was taken into custody and transferred from prison to gendarmerie custody.

On 1 February 2018, Taner Kılıç appeared in court in İzmir, Aliağa and was connected via video link to Istanbul’s 35th High Criminal Court which accepted the decision of Istanbul’s 36thHigh Criminal Court and ordered that Taner Kılıç remain in detention.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the re-arrest and detention of Taner Kılıç as it believes that the charges against him are solely linked to his legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights in Turkey.