ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court has released Taner Kilic, the local honorary chairman of Amnesty International, from prison, the human rights group said on Wednesday in one of several cases that have caused expressions of concern over Ankara’s human rights record.
Kilic, who has been in jail for a year as his trial continued, was charged with supporting a U.S.-based cleric whom Ankara blames for a July 2016 failed coup.
“Great news: The Istanbul court has ruled for the release of Amnesty Turkey Honorary Chair Taner Kilic!!!! Expecting his release by this evening. Celebrations will start then,” Andrew Gardner of Amnesty said on Twitter.
Gardner later tweeted a picture of Kilic hugging his family outside prison, with a caption saying “Taner really is free!”
The court decision came a day after a court in the western province of Edirne released two Greek soldiers facing espionage charges in Turkey. Athens said the ruling would help to improve strained ties with its NATO ally.
Turkey is also involved in a dispute with the United States over the detention of an American Christian pastor for terrorism charges.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Turkish court rejected an appeal for Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson to be released from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted, but an upper court is yet to rule on the appeal.
Speaking to ambassadors in Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said imposing a state of emergency in the aftermath of an abortive coup in 2016 had damaged Turkey’s image, but said it would work to fix this.
“Of course, the measures we took weren’t understood from the outside. We know our image was damaged due to the application of the emergency rule, but it is in our hands to fix this,” he said.
The state of emergency was imposed for two full years, and authorities sacked, suspended or detained thousands of people over alleged links to the abortive putsch.
The crackdown was widely criticised by rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies, who said the coup was being used a pretext to muzzle dissent.
Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean, Richard Balmforth