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Amnesty International on July 2 said that 11 human defenders who are being tried in the Büyükada case need to be acquitted, just a day before a verdict regarding the case is expected.

Ahead of the final hearing on July 3, Amnesty International said only the acquittal of all 11 rights defenders “could deliver justice for the activists who face baseless terrorism charges.”

The NGO said that the 11 rights activists, including former Amnesty Turkey Chair and now Honorary Chair Taner Kılıç and former Amnesty Turkey Director İdil Eser, have spent nearly three years fighting trumped-up charges and could face up to 15 years behind bars if found guilty. 

The 11 activists were detained in a police raid in 2017 while they were attending a human rights workshop on Büyükada, an island near Istanbul. They have been accused of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization” and “aiding armed terrorist organizations” by prosecutors.

After more than 14 months in prison, Kılıç was released on bail in August 2018. Eight of the others, including two foreign nationals, spent almost four months each behind bars before they were released in October 2017.

“Over the course of the past 11 hearings, the ‘terrorism’ allegations made against all 11 defendants have been repeatedly and categorically disproven, including by the state’s own evidence. The prosecution’s attempt to present legitimate human rights activities as unlawful acts has comprehensively failed,” Amnesty International said.

“This verdict matters, not just to these 11 women and men and their families but to everyone who values human rights, in Turkey and beyond. No matter where you live, no matter which government rules you, you may need to have your rights defended one day,” said Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s newly-appointed Europe Director.

“From the start, this has been a politically motivated trial, just like so many others against other human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists,” said Eser.