An Istanbul court on Jan. 31 ordered the release of Taner Kılıç, the president of Turkey’s branch of international rights group Amnesty International.
“It is an enormous relief that Taner will soon return to his wife and daughters and sleep in his own bed for the first time in almost eight months,” Amnesty International’s Director for Europe Gauri van Gulik said in a statement following the court’s decision.
“But we cannot forget that many other innocent people remain behind bars in Turkey without a shred of evidence,” she added.
“Today we take a brief moment to celebrate, but tomorrow we will continue our struggle to have all charges dropped against Taner, the Istanbul 10, and all the other innocent victims wrongfully caught up in this vicious crackdown,” van Gulik said.
The “Istanbul 10” refers to 10 human rights activists detained by Turkish authorities in July while they were attending a human rights workshop on Büyükada, an island near Istanbul. These activists include Amnesty International Turkey Director İdil Eser and two German citizens.
Following the court’s order on Jan. 31, the rights group thanked their followers on the organization’s Twitter page, saying a million people have called for Kılıç’s release prior to the conditional release decision on Jan. 31.
The Turkish government had accused the group of “aiding armed terrorist organizations” through civil society actions in Turkey. The government had also accused the activists of being members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), far-left DHKP-C and the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), accused of masterminding the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
A court in Istanbul on Oct. 25 ordered the release of eight human rights activists from prison pending the outcome of their trial on “terror” charges, but ruled to keep Kılıç’s imprisoned, drawing criticism from human rights supporters around the world.