Turkey: 11 human rights activists on trial over terror charges await verdict

A Turkish court is expected to issue the verdict in the trial of 11 human rights activists who were arrested on terror charges. Footage filmed outside the Istanbul Caglayan Justice Palace on Wednesday shows Amnesty International activists gathered with a banner reading «Justice for rights defenders.» The defendants, which include the former director and former head of human rights group Amnesty International in Turkey, respectively Idil Eser and Taner Kilic, were expected to make their final statements. Ten of the eleven activists on trial were detained in a police raid in July 2017 during a digital security training workshop on Buyukada island. The 11th defendant, Taner Kilic, was detained a month earlier in Izmir. The trial comes just one day after Osman Kavala, renowned philanthropist who had spent almost three years in jail on terrorism charges was re-arrested right after his acquittal. Kilic is being accused of joining the cleric Fethullah Gulen's network, which in turn, is being accused of attempting to organise a coup. Prosecutors claim Kilic was involved in the organisation of the coup via a mobile messaging app, ByLock. Milena Buyum, an Amnesty International campaigner for Turkey told reporters, «for instance, the allegation that Taner had this application on his phone called ByLock. That was destroyed very early on with expert reports, later confirmed by the police report itself. So, the prosecution's own evidence disproves the allegations that they've made.» Regarding the outcome, Buyum said «the only just outcome is the acquittal of all 11. These are human rights defenders, they have done nothing wrong, all they've ever done is campaigning, being active, for the enjoyment of human rights by everyone, in Turkey and elsewhere.» Turkey has arrested 77,000 citizens and has fired approximately 130,000 more from state jobs since the attempted coup.

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