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Human rights activists go on trial in Turkey

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By Robert Hackwill
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Human rights activists go on trial in Turkey

The trial has begun in Turkey of 11 human rights activists, including the heads of the local branch of Amnesty International and two Europeans. If found guilty the defendants face up to 15 years in jail. The Turkish supreme court ruled in September that downloading a widely-available phone messaging app, ByLock, may be enough to determine whether someone backed the failed 2016 military uprising. The Turkish authorities claim the app was used by the plotters to communicate secretly.

“This is ostensibly a trial of 10 human rights defenders attending a workshop on an island in Istanbul, but in fact it is the Turkish justice system and the Turkish authorities that are on trial here today,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s director for Europe and Central Asia.

The terrorism charges relate to a digital security and stress training workshop Amnesty held in a hotel outside the city that the prosecuting authorities claim was a secret meeting to organise an uprising, or even conduct espionage. All the accused deny the charges.