Last Thursday the Turkish high court ruled that Amnesty International’s chair, Taner Kilic, would remain in prison for the duration of his trial on charges of collaborating with the Kurdish PKK terror group. Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty stated that,
Today’s heartbreaking decision to keep our colleague in jail is yet another travesty of justice. After more than a year away from his family and without a shred of credible evidence presented to substantiate the absurd charges made against him, his cruel and protracted incarceration defies all logic.”
The Turkish states war against the PKK has extended into Syria and Iraq over the course of the last year with multiple incursions into sovereign soil.
Taner Kilic and ten other members of Amnesty International were arrested in July of last year on suspicion of being members of the PKK. They were arrested when Turkish police raided their human rights workshop being held on the island of Buyukada. Turkish authorities claim that Kilic downloaded and used an encrypted messaging app, ByLock, to communicate with other PKK members. State records provided by the prosecution indicate the application was downloaded to his phone in August of 2014. Amnesty International claims that there was “no trace” of the application being used on his phone based off multiple forensic analyses reports.
Specifically, Kilic has been accused of having connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Fetullah Gulen’s movement. Gulen is a preacher residing in the United States that the Turkish government claims was behind the failed military coup that happened in 2016. The PKK has been at war with the Turkish government for nearly 30 years and any affiliation to the party is strictly forbidden in Turkey. Kilic will appear in court again in early November for trial continuation, should he be found guilty he will be sentenced to up to 15 years of prison time.
Photo courtesy of Amnesty International