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21 November 2017

Front Line Defenders calls for full acquittal of Istanbul 10 and Taner Kilic

Speaking from Istanbul today, Front Line Defenders’ Executive Director Andrew Anderson called for the full acquittal of human rights defenders on trial for trumped-up “terrorism” charges.

Anderson, who traveled to Istanbul from Dublin to observe the trial, said that while the “Istanbul 10” as they are known had been released on bail following three months in detention, “the fact that they were detained in the first place was a travesty of justice. They must be fully acquitted on Wednesday, and human rights defender Taner Kilic must also be released unconditionally.”

On 5 July 2017, ten human rights defenders, Veli Acu and Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, İdil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Özlem Dalkıran and Nalan Erkem from Citizens' Assembly, İlknur Üstün from Women's Coalition, Şeyhmus Özbekli from Rights Initiative, Nejat Taştan from Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, and Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner who are the consultants collaborating with the Dutch Development Agency, HIVOS, were arrested during a training for human rights defenders on Büyükada Island. On 18 July 2017, all ten were charged with "aiding an armed terrorist organisation". On 25 July 2017, Nejat Taştan and Şeyhmus Özbekli were released on probation but face the same charges.

Amnesty International’s Turkey section Chair Taner Kılıç, was detained a month previously on 6 June 2017 in a separate operation by an İzmir court over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government claims was behind the 2016 attempted coup. On 9 June 2016, he was charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation”.

On 25 October 2017, the Istanbul 10 were released pending trial. The first hearing in the trial of Taner Kılıç took place on 26 October 2017 at the Izmir 16th High Criminal Court and the trial judge formally merged his case with that of the Istanbul 10 and adjourned it until 22 November 2017. Taner Kılıç remains in detention.

If found guilty of these charges, the human rights defenders face between 7.5 and 15 years in prison.

For further information or to speak with Andrew Anderson in Istanbul, please contact:

Erin Kilbride