Turkey to try detained rights activists on Oct. 25 -Anadolu
ANKARA, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Turkey will put a group of human
rights activists, including the local head of Amnesty
International and nationals of Germany and Sweden, on trial on
Oct. 25, state-run media said on Tuesday.
The detention in July of the activists has aggravated
tensions between Turkey and European Union leaders, who fear
that Ankara is sliding towards authoritarianism under President
A Turkish prosecutor called earlier this month for jail
sentences of up to 15 years on terrorism charges for the
activists, who were detained after attending a workshop on
digital security on an island off Istanbul.
State-run Anadolu news agency said a Turkish court accepted
the prosecutor's indictment, setting the October date for the
first hearing in Istanbul. It said the activists would be
remanded in custody until the hearing.
Among those arrested were Amnesty International's Turkey
director, Idil Eser, German citizen Peter Frank Steudtner and
Swedish citizen Ali Gharavi, who have been accused of being
members of and aiding an "armed terrorist organisation".
Shortly after they were detained, Germany said it was
reviewing Turkey's applications to buy weaponry from Germany. A
cabinet minister in Berlin compared Ankara's behaviour to that
of the former Communist East Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month that Turkey's
12-year journey to join the European Union should be halted,
although Ankara has said it remains determined to press on with
its accession process.
Erdogan's government says EU critics of the court case -
and of the wider security crackdown in Turkey since last year's
failed military coup - do not understand the scale of the
challenges facing Turkey.
More than 50,000 people have been detained since the
abortive coup and 150,000 people, including teachers, academics
and lawyers, have been suspended from their jobs.
EU leaders will meet on Oct. 19 to address the deterioration
in relations between Brussels and Ankara at a two-day summit,
though Merkel said the leaders would stop short of drawing
conclusions on Turkey's longstanding bid to join the bloc.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan and Mark
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