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US 'deeply troubled' by Turkey Amnesty International chief's re-arrest

Kilic and ten other human rights activists are on trial for "terrorism charges" [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2018

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The US has expressed 'concern' after a Turkish court re-arrested the local head of Amnesty International.
The US said it was "deeply troubled" by Turkey's re-arrest of the head of rights group Amnesty International, and called on its NATO ally to end its state of emergency and safeguard the rule of law.

Taner Kilic was arrested in June accused of being a member of an organisation allied to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric who has been blamed by Turkey of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt.

Heather Nauert, the US state department spokesperson said in a briefing that the Washington was "deeply troubled" by Kilic’s re-arrest on 1 February.

She added Washington was closely following Kilic's case, as well as those against other human rights defenders, journalists, civil society leaders and opposition politicians detained in the state of emergency following a failed coup attempt against Turkish president on 15 July, 2016.

"We call on the Turkish government to end the protracted state of emergency, to release those detained arbitrarily under the emergency authorities and to safeguard the rule of law," Nauert said.

She noted that the emergency law had "chilled freedom of expression" and raised concerns about judicial independence.

Last week, a Turkish court had ordered the release of the jailed chairman, only for the decision to be scrapped the next day. Kilic was re-arrested before he had even arrived home.

Kilic and ten other human rights activists are on trial for "terrorism charges" including Amnesty's Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained in July after holding a workshop on an island off Istanbul.

Leading rights group Amnesty International has described the charges as "bogus terrorism charges", adding that Kilic is the only one of the 11 still jailed after eight months in detention.

Relations have been strained between Washington and Ankara recently, in particular over Turkey's military expedition in Syria and US support for Syrian-Kurdish forces.

Under the state of emergency, Turkey has arrested around 50,000 people and purged 110,000 civil servants in a crackdown aimed at cleansing the state of Gulen's followers.

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