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Turkey Arrests Head of Amnesty Over Gulen Links

Turkey Arrests Head of Amnesty Over Gulen LinksTurkey Arrests Head of Amnesty Over Gulen Links

The chairman of Amnesty International Turkey has been detained in the western city of Izmir along with 22 other lawyers over alleged links to the Gulen movement, an organization that the country blames for last year’s coup attempt, according to Turkish authorities and the UK-based rights group.

Amnesty International condemned the move by Turkish authorities after Taner Kilic’s arrest on Tuesday for having suspected ties with the Gulen group. The group added that his home and office were searched by the police, Aljazeera reported.

State media said Kilic was detained for using ByLock, an encrypted communication software the government says is used by the members of the outlawed group.

“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said.

“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kilic along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them.”

Turkey accuses Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader who lives in self-imposed exile in the US, and his group of orchestrating the coup attempt last summer, which killed about 300 people and led to arrests in the country.

Local and international rights groups, as well as many of Turkey’s European allies, say the arrests and purges are arbitrary, claiming that the government is using the coup attempt as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.

Orhan Miroglu, the member of the parliament’s Human Rights Commission, said the investigation into the Gulen group is wide-reaching due to its size and 40 year-history of the organization.

“It’s unfortunate that the head of a reputed human rights organization has been detained,” Miroglu, who is also an MP with the ruling Justice and Development Party, told Aljazeera.

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