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Detained human rights activists face charges in Turkey

Andrew Gardner, researcher on Turkey of Amnesty International, poses for the photographers outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017. Ten Turkish human rights activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained by police while attending a training workshop appeared before a court in Istanbul on Monday to face possible charges or be released from custody. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Andrew Gardner, researcher on Turkey of Amnesty International, poses for the photographers outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017. Ten Turkish human rights activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained by police while attending a training workshop appeared before a court in Istanbul on Monday to face possible charges or be released from custody. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Andrew Gardner, researcher on Turkey of Amnesty International, talks to members of the media, outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017. Ten Turkish human rights activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained by police while attending a training workshop appeared before a court in Istanbul on Monday to face possible charges or be released from custody. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Andrew Gardner, researcher on Turkey of Amnesty International, talks to members of the media, outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017. Ten Turkish human rights activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, who were detained by police while attending a training workshop appeared before a court in Istanbul on Monday to face possible charges or be released from custody. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish lawyers hold a protest outside Istanbul's court, Monday, July 17, 2017, demanding the release of Mustafa Yaman, a lawyer who according to Turkish media was detained earlier this month on suspicion of links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding last year's failed coup. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup attempt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish Army officers forcibly carry Haldun Gulmez, a former army special forces lieutenant accused of attempting to kill Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, to a court in Mugla, southern Turkey, Monday July 17, 2017. The trial resumed Monday and the suspects - 37 of them former military personnel - facing possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, are accused of attacking the hotel in the resort of Marmaris where Erdogan was vacationing with his family, killing two policemen. Erdogan had left the hotel shortly before it was stormed. (Taylan Yildirim/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
Turkish Army officers forcibly carry Haldun Gulmez, a former army special forces lieutenant accused of attempting to kill Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, to a court in Mugla, southern Turkey, Monday July 17, 2017. The trial resumed Monday and the suspects - 37 of them former military personnel - facing possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, are accused of attacking the hotel in the resort of Marmaris where Erdogan was vacationing with his family, killing two policemen. Erdogan had left the hotel shortly before it was stormed. (Taylan Yildirim/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
Turkish Army officers forcibly carry Haldun Gulmez, a former army special forces lieutenant accused of attempting to kill Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, to a court in Mugla, southern Turkey, Monday July 17, 2017. The trial resumed Monday and the suspects - 37 of them former military personnel - facing possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, are accused of attacking the hotel in the resort of Marmaris where Erdogan was vacationing with his family, killing two policemen. Erdogan had left the hotel shortly before it was stormed. (Taylan Yildirim/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
Turkish Army officers forcibly carry Haldun Gulmez, a former army special forces lieutenant accused of attempting to kill Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, to a court in Mugla, southern Turkey, Monday July 17, 2017. The trial resumed Monday and the suspects - 37 of them former military personnel - facing possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, are accused of attacking the hotel in the resort of Marmaris where Erdogan was vacationing with his family, killing two policemen. Erdogan had left the hotel shortly before it was stormed. (Taylan Yildirim/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
Backdropped by a painting depicting Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chairs the National Security Council meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 17, 2017. Erdogan says the country's top security advisory body will discuss on Monday whether to further extend a state of emergency that was declared after last year's failed coup. Erdogan also said he would approve
Backdropped by a painting depicting Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chairs the National Security Council meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 17, 2017. Erdogan says the country's top security advisory body will discuss on Monday whether to further extend a state of emergency that was declared after last year's failed coup. Erdogan also said he would approve "without any hesitation" any legislation that would be passed in parliament to reinstate the death penalty. (Presidency Press Service Pool Photo via AP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, chairs the National Security Council meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 17, 2017. Erdogan says the country's top security advisory body will discuss on Monday whether to further extend a state of emergency that was declared after last year's failed coup. Erdogan also said he would approve
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, chairs the National Security Council meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 17, 2017. Erdogan says the country's top security advisory body will discuss on Monday whether to further extend a state of emergency that was declared after last year's failed coup. Erdogan also said he would approve "without any hesitation" any legislation that would be passed in parliament to reinstate the death penalty. (Presidency Press Service Pool Photo via AP)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, July 17, 2017 01:05 pm

ISTANBUL Ten Turkish human rights activists who were detained by police while attending a training workshop appeared before court officials in Istanbul on Monday to face possible charges or be released from custody.

The activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, were detained earlier this month at a hotel on Buyukada island off Istanbul and questioned by anti-terrorism police.

Amnesty said the group was being investigated for membership in an armed terrorist organization. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made vague accusations against the 10, saying they were holding a meeting that had the "nature of a continuation" of last year's failed coup attempt.

Amnesty has called for their release and said their case is a test for Turkey's judiciary.

"Turkey will be disgraced in the eyes of world if these human rights defenders are put in prison for defending human rights," Andrew Gardner, Amnesty's Turkey researcher, told a group of reporters outside the courthouse.

Other than Amnesty, the activists are members of the Women's coalition, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, the Human Rights' Agenda Association, the Association to Monitor Equal Rights and the Rights Initiative. Their two trainers a German and a Swede were also detained.

Turkey has blamed the July 15, 2016, failed coup on followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and has branded his movement a terror organization.

The country declared a state of emergency days after the coup and launched a massive crackdown, arresting about 50,000 people and dismissing more than 100,000 from government jobs. The crackdown initially focused on people with suspected ties to the alleged coup plotters, but has been extended to include politicians, journalists and activists.

Turkey's parliament on Monday voted to extend the state of emergency, which was due to expire on July 19, by a further three months. Erdogan has said the state of emergency would be regularly extended until tranquility is restored.

Eser is the second top Amnesty International official in Turkey to face prosecution. Last month, Amnesty's Turkey chair, Taner Kilic, was arrested for alleged links to Gulen's movement.

"It's no exaggeration to say that Amnesty International in Turkey and in fact the whole of the Human Rights movement here in Turkey faces an existential threat," Gardner said.

In a related development, 19 people including former soldiers went on trial in Istanbul, for raiding the headquarters of Dogan media holding on the night of the failed attempt in a bid to take over two of its television stations and Hurriyet newspaper.

They face life terms in prison if found guilty of charges of trying to overthrow the state and membership in a terror group.

Also Monday, a group of lawyers gathered at a courthouse in Istanbul to protest the detention of a colleague, Mustafa Yaman, on alleged links to Gulen.

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Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

        

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