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Turkey re-arrests human rights activists, blasts German 'interference'

Amnesty International called the new arrests "cruel and retrograde". [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 July, 2017

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Turkish security forces have re-arrested two activists previously detained but then released in a controversial case which has seen Germany lambaste the country's human rights record.

Turkish security forces re-arrested two activists previously detained but then released in a controversial case which has seen Germany lambaste the country's human rights record.

Earlier in July, Turkey detained 10 people in a raid by police on a workshop session held by human rights activists on an island off Istanbul.

On Tuesday, a Turkish court ordered six of the activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, to be remanded in custody on charges of aiding a "terror" group.

Four others were released.

But on Friday a court issued new arrest warrants for the activists after granting an appeal from prosecutors against their release.

Nalan Erkem was detained at her home in Istanbul while Ilknur Ustun was arrested at her residence in Ankara, Amnesty International said on Saturday.

The whereabouts of the two others, Seyhmus Ozbekli and Nejat Tastan, are unknown.

"Turkey has underlined its growing reputation as an indiscriminate jailer of civil society activists and a stranger to the rule of law," John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Director for Europe, said.

He described the new detentions as a "cruel and retrograde step" and said the Turkish authorities have "raised their absurdity to fresh heights".

Diplomatic row with Germany

Two of the original ten activists detained are German citizen Peter Steudtner and Swede Ali Gharavi, who were leading a digital information workshop.

This has stoked tensions in particular with Berlin, which is now looking at an overhaul of its relations with Ankara.

Berlin was already furious over the jailing in February of Deniz Yucel, Turkey correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, who Erdogan has personally denounced as a "terror agent".

Last week, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned German firms against investment in Turkey and spoke of an "overhaul" of the entire relationship.

On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Germany has no right to interfere in Turkey's domestic affairs

"Turkey is a social democratic state based on law and no one has the right to interfere in its internal affairs," said Erdogan before heading off on a trip to the Gulf.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency days after a failed coup last year, launching a widespread purge of state institutions, arresting 50,000 people and firing 100,000 from government jobs.

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