Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) has called for the release of Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey chair Taner Kilic, under arrest for more than 7 months now.

In a written statement issued a day before Kilic’s court appearance on Jan 31, PACE’s co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC) reiterated their call for the right defender’s release.

“Taner Kilic, like any other individual, should feel safe and secure to express himself and assemble in Turkey. We urge once again the Turkish authorities to ensure that these fundamental freedoms are duly and effectively secured, and put an end to the continuous arrests and detentions of those expressing dissenting and critical opinions, which cannot be a crime in itself”, they said.

”In this context , we are deeply concerned about today’s arrest of Turkish Medical Association board members, including its chair, as well as hundreds others for criticizing Turkish military intervention in Afrin. We call on the Turkish authorities to act and react in full respect of Council of Europe standards”, the co-rapporteurs also added.

Kılıç, a lawyer, a founding member of AI Turkey and chairman of its board of directors since 2014, was arrested by an İzmir court on June 9 as part of an investigation into the Gülen group. Set to appear during a court appearance on Wednesday, he faces terror charges along with 10 other rights defenders who could be jailed up to 15 years if convicted.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group. The group denies involvement.

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