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Amnesty urges release of Turkey director

Hülya Topcu
June 7, 2017

Amnesty International's Turkey director, Taner Kilic, has been detained by authorities over links to the Gulen movement. The organization's Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner has called for his release in a DW interview.

Türkei Symbolbild Haft, Bewachung
Image: picture-alliance/Zuma Press/Depo Photos

Amnesty International's director in Turkey, Taner Kilic, was among 23 lawyers arrested in the western city of Izmir. They are suspected of having ties to the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. He was questioned by police on Wednesday and is expected to be taken to court. DW spoke with Amnesty's researcher on Turkey, Andrew Garner, over Kilic's arrest.

DW: What do you know so far about Kilic's arrest?

Andrew Gardner: We were informed that he was detained yesterday. The decision has come as a part of the ongoing investigation on the [Gulen movement]. We do not know much as of now but we believe that he has not committed any crime. We hope that his innocence will be proven soon and he will be released with haste. Hundreds of journalists, activists and lawyers have been detained and then arrested in Turkey, therefore we are concerned.

Amnesty International Press Meeting in Istanbul Andrew Gardner
Gardner: 'We are concerned'Image: picture alliance/AA/A.Ozdil

Do you know the other 22 lawyers who have been detained along with Kilic? Do they have any connection with Amnesty International?

No, they are not connected to Amnesty. I personally do not know the other detained lawyers but I heard that they were all based in Izmir when it happened.

How would you describe the working conditions for organizations like Amnesty International in Turkey? Have you been under any sort of pressure from the government?

There is a climate of fear reigning in Turkey, especially in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt. All the NGOs and civil society organizations are under pressure. More than 100 journalists have been detained, and then were arrested. More than 100 foundations were shut down. The working conditions for Amnesty are obviously far from ideal. We think that international NGOs are even more under pressure. As an organization with an international reputation and good standing, we thought that we would be eventually put under pressure. For this reason we are deeply concerned about Kilic's detainment. Yet, we do not know whether Amnesty International is targeted here.