Amnesty International chief remains in custody in Turkey

Amnesty International’s chairman in Turkey remained in custody Thursday — a day after an Istanbul court ordered his conditional release — after a prosecutor appealed to a different court for his detention to be renewed, the rights group said.

Taner Kılıç has been in custody since his arrest last June on terrorism-related charges.

He and 10 other human rights activists, including Amnesty International Turkey’s director, İdil Eser, went on trial in October accused of aiding groups that Turkey describes as “armed terrorist organizations.” Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people, including journalists, activists and opposition political figures, following an attempted military coup in 2016.

Andrew Gardner, a senior Amnesty researcher on Turkey, tweeted that Kılıç was transferred from prison custody to gendarmerie custody late Wednesday.

The rights group expects him to be brought soon to an Izmir court and then transferred back to prison custody on the basis of the Istanbul court’s decision to accept the prosecutor’s appeal and renew Kılıç’s detention, he said.

Amnesty International’s Europe director Gauri van Gulik, who on Wednesday had welcomed news of the Istanbul court’s decision to order Kılıç’s release, vowed to continue to fight for his freedom in the face of “odd legal maneuvers” by the Turkish authorities.

“Our jubilation turns into despair: Taner kept in detention, court order reversed release decision late last night,” she tweeted.

“His family waited outside prison all day, to no avail. Devastated for them and for what this means for Turkey’s rule of law. We won’t stop until he’s out.”

Amnesty has said it will continue the fight to have all charges dropped against the 11 activists, whose trial continues. The others were detained but were released earlier.

The activists are accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK — which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — and FETO, a term used by the Turkish government to describe supporters of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey blames Gulen for orchestrating the attempted coup. Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States, has denied the accusations.

If convicted, the 11 could face jail terms of up to 15 years, Amnesty International said.