Turkish prosecutors demand up to 15 years in prison for Amnesty International activists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 October, 2017, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 October, 2017, 10:14pm

Turkish prosecutors have demanded up to 15 years in prison on charges of backing a terror group for 11 activists, most of whom were detained in a raid on a workshop led by Amnesty International, a report said on Sunday.

The accused, who include the director of Amnesty Turkey Idil Eser, several prominent Turkish rights activists and a German citizen and Swedish citizen, have been charged with “giving help to an armed terror group”, the Dogan news agency said.

Prosecutors have asked for jail sentences from seven-and-a-half to 15 years, Dogan said, without specifying the request for each suspect.

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In the indictment, the activists are accused of seeking to create “chaos in society” similar to the anti-government protests that rocked Turkey in the summer of 2013.

Ten activists were detained in July in a raid by police on a workshop session of human rights activists held on the island of Buyukada, a popular getaway spot near Istanbul.

Their jailing sparked international alarm and amplified fears of declining freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A month earlier, Amnesty International’s Turkey chair, Taner Kilic, was remanded in custody on charges of links to the alleged mastermind of the July 15 failed coup Fethullah Gulen.

His case has now been merged with that of the other 10 activists and faces even more serious charges of “membership” of an armed terror group.

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Two of those held are foreigners – German Peter Steudtner and Swede Ali Gharavi, who were leading the digital information workshop.

This has stoked tensions in particular with Berlin, which sharply criticised the mass crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup, plunging its relations with Ankara.

Amnesty describes Gharavi as an IT strategy consultant and Steudtner as a “non-violence and well-being trainer”.