Turkish court grants release of local Amnesty International chair

A court in Istanbul granted the release of Amnesty International Turkey’s chair, Taner Kılıç, the human rights group said Wednesday.

Kılıç was detained and jailed in June last year, and still faces charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. Turkish prosecutors accuse him of downloading a messaging app they say is linked to supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims organized the failed 2016 military coup.

In January, a Turkish court had initially ordered his release, but then reversed the decision and kept him in detention.

“Whilst we rejoice at this decision, our celebrations will only truly begin when he is safely back at home in the arms of his wife and daughters,” Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

News of his release also comes amid deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington over the arrest of an American pastor and charges against several U.S. officers at the İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. The conflict has resulted in an escalating trade standoff, with Turkey announcing Wednesday it would raise tariffs on U.S. cars, alcohol and tobacco.

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