The whereabouts of eight human rights activists and two trainers who were detained during a during a digital security and information management workshop organized by Amnesty International (AI) in İstanbul on Wednesday have been determined, BBC Turkish reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly said Özlem Dalkıran and Nalan Erken were at the Kartal Aslantepe Police Station; Veli Acu and Günan Kurşun at the Kartal Topselvi Police Station; Necat Taştan and Şeyhmus Özbekli at the Pendik Esenyalı Police Station; and AI Turkey director İdil Eser was taken to the Cumhuriyet Police Station in Istanbul’s Maltepe district.
The owner of the hotel, who was also detained with the activists, was released, while the two foreign trainers, a German and a Swedish national, were kept at a police station on Büyükada.
There is still no information as to what they are accused of and why they were taken to different police stations.
AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty 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.
In the meantime, US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said the United States is deeply concerned by the detention of human rights defenders from Amnesty International and other organizations in Turkey.
Emphasizing the significance of freedom of expression for democracy and respect for individual rights, Nauert in a press statement issued on Thursday asked Turkey to comply with international commitments.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the July 5 detention of prominent human rights defenders from Amnesty International Turkey and other respected institutions. As with past arrests of prominent human rights defenders, journalists, academics and activists, we underscore the importance of respecting due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution and consistent with Turkey’s own international commitments. As we have expressed on numerous occasions, persistent curbs on freedom of expression erode the foundations of democratic society. More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times,” said Nauert.