October 26, 2017 / 1:03 PM / a year ago

Turkish court remands Turkey's Amnesty chairman in custody, Amnesty says

ANKARA (Reuters) - A Turkish court remanded Amnesty International’s local board chairman in custody on Thursday, Amnesty Turkey said, hours after its local director was released by a separate court.

The group’s chairman, Taner Kilic, has been in prison since June in the coastal province of Izmir on terrorism charges. Prosecutors say he downloaded ByLock, a messaging application used by supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric Turkey says was behind a failed coup last year.

On Wednesday an Istanbul court ordered the release on bail of eight human rights activists, including the director of the local branch of Amnesty International, pending a verdict in their trial on terrorism charges.

The Izmir court merged Kilic’s case with that of the rights activists in Istanbul. The next hearing for all 11 defendants will be held on Nov. 22.

“Over the last 24 hours we have seen the twin hands of Turkey’s fickle justice system at play. While one grants liberty, the other, confronted with no less baseless charges, takes it away,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The release... late last night restored some faith in Turkey’s justice system. Today, that faith has been washed away.”

Separately, prominent activist and businessman Osman Kavala’s detention period has been extended for another seven days, one of lawyers representing him told Reuters.

Kavala, who took part in several civil initiatives for the protection of human rights and resolutions of the Kurdish issues in Turkey, was initially detained at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport last week, as part of a secret investigation which drew reaction from Ankara’s western allies.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said Kavala was behind the Gezi uprising, a referral to the 2013 mass protests against Erdogan’s rule.

Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and David Dolan

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