Turkey releases 8 rights activists as US urges respect for freedoms

Turkey releases 8 rights activists as US urges respect for freedoms

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ISTANBUL: Turkey has released eight human rights activists, including two prominent academics, as the U.S. called Ankara to respect fundamental freedoms.

Turkish police had detained 14 human rights activists on Nov. 16 as part of an investigation into prominent rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala.

Kavala was detained in October last year and subsequently jailed pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government as part of an investigation into the network which Ankara accuses of carrying out a 2016 failed coup.

The two academics were named as Professor Turgut Tarhanlı of Istanbul Bilgi University and Professor Betül Tanbay of Boğaziçi University. The other detainees were staff of Kavala’s Anatolia Culture Association, which is involved in promoting culture and rights.

Tarhanlı, Tanbay and two officials of the Anatolia Culture Association were released on Nov. 17, after they testified to the police in Istanbul, according to Demirören News Agency.

The agency added that the judicial procedures for the other detainees continue.

US: ‘Release those held arbitrarily’

“The United States is very concerned about Turkey’s detention today of academics, journalists, and civil society activists with ties to the Anatolia Culture Association. Transparency, rule of law, and freedom of expression and association are fundamental elements of every healthy democracy,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Nov. 16.

“The U.S.-Turkey partnership is strongest when Turkish democracy is thriving. We urge Turkey to respect and ensure freedom of expression, association, and assembly, fair trial guarantees, judicial independence, and other human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to release those held arbitrarily,” she added.

In a statement marking one year since he was remanded in custody, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch renewed calls at the end of October for Kavala’s immediate and unconditional release.

No indictment outlining the precise charges against him had so far been issued by prosecutors, their statement said.__Hurriyet

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