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Court in Turkey reissues detention warrants for four activists

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Amnesty International activists wear handcuffs during a protest against the arrest of rights activists in Turkey, including Amnesty International's Turkey director, in Rome on July 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A court in Turkey has reissued arrest warrants for four human rights activists who had been released on probation earlier this week.

On Friday, the court accepted an objection filed by the Istanbul prosecutor's office to the activists' release, Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu reported.

The activists were initially released on Tuesday after submitting their passports and they were required to regularly report to a police station.

The activists are part of a group arrested earlier in July on an Istanbul island during a digital security training course.

Earlier this week, a court in Istanbul decided to continue the detention of Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser along with five other activists, including a German national identified as Peter Steudtner, over allegations of links to Kurdish militia and the alleged plotter of last year’s attempted coup.

The court, however, decided to release four other activists pending the outcome of a trial.

Amnesty International activists hold placards during a protest against the arrest of rights activists in Turkey, including Amnesty International's Turkey director, in Rome on July 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The ten activists were arrested on July 5 during a police raid on a hotel on the island of Buyukada south of Istanbul, where they attended a workshop on digital security and information management.

Two of the arrested activists were foreign trainers of the digital information workshop, a German and a Swedish national. The remaining eight were Turkish human rights defenders, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women's Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Berlin slammed the detention of the six activists, including German national Steudtner, as "unjustified."

Amnesty International also called the court ruling a "crushing blow for rights in Turkey” while Turkey's main opposition party, Republican People's Party (CHP), slammed it as a "shame for Turkey" and expressed doubt over the prospect of a fair trial for the activists.

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Relations between Germany, home to three million ethnic Turks, and Turkey have deteriorated since last year’s coup, with Berlin voicing grave concerns over mass arrests, dismissal of alleged coup plotters and a wide range of rights violations.

The tensions became more intense after Turkey imprisoned Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist with the newspaper Die Welt, on terror charges earlier this year.

Last month, Turkey also arrested Amnesty International's Turkey chair Taner Kilic along with 22 other lawyers in the western city of Izmir on accusation of collaborating with coup plotters.

On July 9, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu completed a 450-kilometer mass rally from Ankara to Istanbul, dubbed “March for Justice," to condemn Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown and the alleged government’s interference in the judiciary.

More than 40,000 people have been arrested as part of Turkey’s crackdown on suspected plotters and sympathizers of the coup attempt. A further 100,000 people have been discharged from jobs over the same accusations.

Earlier this month, European Parliament advised the European Union to freeze accession talks with Turkey amid growing concerns over declining human rights, media freedoms and rule of law issues in the country.


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