In a shameful verdict on 3 July 2020 the court convicted Taner Kılıç, former chair of Amnesty Turkey, for ‘membership of the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organisation’ and sentenced him to 6 years and 3 months in jail.
The court also convicted İdil Eser (former director of Amnesty Turkey) and activists Özlem Dalkıran and Günal Kurşun for ‘assisting the Fethullah Gülenterrorist organisation’, sentencing them each to 25 months in jail.
Seven other activists who also faced charges in the trial were acquitted.
Our Turkey researcher, who has attended the trial over almost 3 years, said:
"The decision of the court is staggering. During 12 court hearings, each and every allegation has been comprehensively exposed as a baseless slur. The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices it was from day one.
"This case has been a litmus test for the Turkish justice system. As such, it is tragic to see the part it has played and continues to play in criminalising the act of standing up for human rights. We will continue to stand with our friends and colleagues as they appeal these shameful verdicts.”
What will happen next?
None of the four who were convicted have been detained.
We will be supporting them all every step of the way throughout the appeal process. We will update this page with what you can do next to help.
Taner Kılıç, then chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested on 6 June 2017. Three days later he was jailed on charges of being a member of what the government call the 'Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation'. Without any evidence, the authorities claimed that Taner had downloaded a messaging app the government says was used by the group to communicate. He is not a member of this organisation and never downloaded the app in question.
Then on 5 July İdil Esser – the then director of Amnesty Turkey – and nine other human rights defenders were arrested at a hotel where they were on a workshop for well-being and digital security. The authorities accused them of taking part in a secret meeting. Eight of the ten defenders were jailed on the basis of these allegations.
İdil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Veli Acu, Ali Gharavi, Peter Steudtner, Nalan Erkem and İlknur Üstün spent 99 days in pre-trial detention before they were released on bail in October 2017. Taner spent 432 days in jail before being released on bail in November 2019.
The trial was then postponed several times for several reasons until finally a verdict was given on 3 July 2020.