Lawyer and human rights defender Taner Kılıç, chair of the board of Amnesty International’s Turkey section.

© 2017 Amnesty International

(Istanbul) – Turkish authorities should immediately release the lawyer and human rights defender Taner Kılıç, chair of the board of Amnesty International’s Turkey section, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Anti-Terror Branch of the Izmir police detained Kılıç on June 6, 2017, and searched his home and office. Media reports say that the actions are linked to the ongoing investigation into people associated with the Fethullah Gülen movement. 

“Turkey should release Taner Kılıç, who is a tireless defender of human rights, known for his support for Amnesty International over many years,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Detaining Kılıç on suspicion of terrorist offenses looks like a tactic aimed at discrediting his legitimate human rights work.” 

Government-connected media reports of Kılıç’s detention, together with 22 other lawyers in the city of Izmir, emphasize his Amnesty International Turkey affiliation. Kılıç is a founding member of AI Turkey and has been chair of its board of directors since 2014. He has also played a strong role in advocating for refugee rights as a lawyer and among domestic nongovernmental groups and others working on these issues.

Turkey’s government labels the followers of the United States-based Sunni cleric a terrorist organization and accuses Gülen of leading the failed military coup last year. Thousands of people have been arrested over alleged Gülenist links and tens of thousands dismissed from employment in public services.