Human Rights Activists, Amnesty Heads go on Trial in Turkey
German campaigner Peter Steudtner is among the 11 human rights activists on trial in Turkey, accused of belonging to and aiding terror groups. Critics say the charges are politically motivated, Deutsche Welle reported.
The trial of the 11 activists was set to begin on Wednesday, with the defendants facing up to 15 years in jail on terrorism related charges.
Those on trial include the local heads of rights group Amnesty International, Idil Eser and Taner Kilic, as well as German national Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharavi from Sweden.
The charges against them have been criticized by the United States and European Union, with Germany calling the allegations politically motivated and "absurd."
Ten of the defendants were detained at a human rights workshop on July 5 on the island of Buyukada, near Istanbul. Amnesty Chair Kilic was arrested weeks earlier and his case later folded into the Buyukada case.
"Turkey has jailed these people, just like they have jailed hundreds of journalists, fueling the propaganda that human rights defenders are somehow dangerous and must be stopped. This is ridiculous and simply not true," Amnesty said in a statement ahead of the trial. "These people were peacefully protecting other people's human rights in Turkey. Every day that they are detained, the people they spoke up for are left more vulnerable to the government's sweeping crackdown."
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