Turkey arrests Amnesty International head and lawyers in Gulenist sweep
Turkish authorities have detained the local head of Amnesty International for alleged links to the network of the Muslim cleric Ankara blames for last year’s failed coup.
Police detained Taner Kiliç and 22 other lawyers in the Aegean coastal province of Izmir on suspicion of ties to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the human rights group said, citing a detention order.
“Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general.
Turkish authorities were not immediately available for comment. Officials say the crackdown is necessary due to the gravity of the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people were killed.
Kiliç was detained by police at his home in Izmir early on Tuesday before being taken to his office, Amnesty said. Both properties were searched and he remains in police custody.
The Guardian view on the Turkish referendum: Erdoğan entrenches himself
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied involvement in the coup and condemned it. Critics in Turkey and abroad say President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.
Turkey’s interior ministry said on Monday it would strip citizenship from 130 people suspected of militant links, including Gulen, unless they return to Turkey within three months.