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Detained human rights defenders to remain in police custody for 7 days

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Eight human rights activists who were detained during a digital security and information management workshop organized by Amnesty International (AI) in İstanbul on Wednesday will be kept under police custody for seven days, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.

Bahri Belen, lawyer for some of the activists, said the prosecutor decided on a seven-day detention for the activists and that the accusations against them were still not known.

However, the Human Rights Association (İHD) said the activists, who were taken to different police stations, are being accused of membership in an armed terrorist organization.

Turkish police, acting on an anonymous tip, raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International (AI), İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli, and Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two foreign trainers — a German and a Swedish national — as well as the hotel owner, who was later released, were also detained.

AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty in a statement on Wednesday harshly criticized the detention of AI Turkey Director Eser along with the seven other human rights activists, calling it “a grotesque abuse of power.”

Shetty, who expressed strong concern over the detention of the activists, said: “We are profoundly disturbed and outraged that some of Turkey’s leading human rights defenders, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, should have been detained so blatantly without cause.”

Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and chairman of AI’s Turkey’s board, was arrested on June 9, accused of links to the alleged mastermind of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Fethullah Gülen, who has denied any involvement.

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