4 human rights activists convicted of terror charges

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ISTANBUL — The court sentenced Taner Kılıç to 6 years and 3 months of prison, Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran to 1 year and 13 months of prison each.

The court issued the decision on Friday regarding the 11 human rights defenders, against whom a lawsuit, known as "Büyükada Trial" which was filed on charges of "aiding armed terrorist organizations" and "being members of an armed terrorist organization" due to their meeting entitled "digital security and protection of human rights defenders".

The court convicted 4 human rights activists of terror charges.The four convicted activists, who were released from jail pending the outcome, were expected to appeal the verdict. All 11 defendants maintained their innocence throughout the trial.

'NEGLIGENCE IN THE FILE'

Ezgi Yalvarıcı, the lawyer of Taştan stated that the claims of the prosecutor lack solid ground saying, "Although they clearly do not have any material basis and can not be considered as evidence, there are many issues presented to the court as evidence by the prosecutor. The presentation of evidence that does not exist in the file is clearly a negligence. It is not considered as a crime by the universal law to speak with someone on the phone who is deemed to be guilty. However, the prosecutor bases his claims on that. To defend human rights is a universal right. It is unacceptable that this is the subject of investigation. I want my client's acquittal."

'PROSECUTOR'S CLAIM HAS NO SOLID GROUND'

Erkem's lawyer Ali Koç took the stand later on stating, "The meeting in question was not organized by individuals, but by human rights organizations. The meeting was not confidential. As a matter of fact my client shared the announcement of the meeting on his social media accounts. I want my client's acquittal."

4 RIGHTS ACTIVISTS WERE CONVICTED

Amnesty International’s former Turkey chairman, Taner Kilic, was convicted of membership in a terror organization and sentenced to 6 years and 3 months of prison.

The court also convicted three other human rights activists — Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran — of charges of aiding a terror group, sentencing them to one year and one month each. Seven other activists, including German citizen Peter Steudtner and Swede Ali Gharavi, were acquitted of the charges.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNED THE RULING

Amnesty International condemned the ruling as a “crushing blow for human rights and for justice” in Turkey.

“Today, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher who observed the hearing. “The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices.”

Gardner said: “This case has been a litmus test for the Turkish justice system. As such, it is tragic to see the part it has played and continues to play in criminalizing the act of standing up for human rights.”

WHEN AND WHY WERE THE ACTIVISTS DETAINED?

Ten of the activists were detained in a police raid in July 2017 while attending a digital security training workshop on Buyukada island, off Istanbul. The 11th activist, Kılıç, was detained separately a month earlier in the city of İzmir.

Ten defendants were charged with aiding terrorist organizations, including the network led by a U.S.-based cleric, which the Turkish government blames for the 2016 coup attempt and has designated as a terror group. Kılıç was accused of membership in cleric Fethullah Gulen’s network. 

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