Turkey prosecutor calls for top Amnesty representative’s terror conviction

Turkish prosecutors called Wednesday for Amnesty International’s Turkey chair to be convicted of membership in a terror group, meaning up to 15 years in prison, in a trial labelled “absurd” by the rights group.

Taner Kilic spent more than a year in pre-trial detention before being released in August 2018, accused of links to U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey blames for an attempted coup in 2016.

Kilic is on trial with 10 other human rights activists, arrested in 2017 after holding a workshop on an island off Istanbul.

The prosecutor called for five of them, including Amnesty’s former country director Idil Eser, to be sentenced on the lesser charge of “aiding a terror group without being a member.”

The remaining five should be acquitted, he said, including German citizen Peter Frank Steudtner and Swedish citizen Ali Gharavi.

“After months in jail and years before the courts, the prosecution has failed to present any credible evidence to substantiate the absurd charges,” Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty’s secretary general, said in a statement.

The central piece of evidence against Kilic was that he had an encrypted messaging application on his phone called ByLock, which Ankara claims was especially created for Gulen supporters.

A police report released a year after his arrest found he did not have the application on his phone.