Turkish court decides to keep six rights activists in custody

An Istanbul court has ordered six human rights activists - including Amnesty International's Turkey director - to be formally arrested pending a trial on charges of aiding an armed terror group. "This is not a legitimate prosecution", Salil Shetty, Amnesty's global director, said in a statement.

Prosecutors accuse them of "committing a crime in the name of a terror organisation without being a member", it said.

Two foreign trainers, a German and a Swede, are also in jail.

On Tuesday, the Istanbul court chose to continue the detention of Amnesty's Turkey director Idil Eser along with five other activists, including a German national identified as Peter Steudtner.

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John Dalhuisen, Europe chief for the global human rights watchdog, told AFP in London that the accusations against the activists including Amnesty's Turkey director were "palpably absurd".

Last month, Turkey also arrested Amnesty International's Turkey chair Taner Kilic along with 22 other lawyers in the western city of Izmir on accusation of collaborating with coup plotters. A human rights activists who has worked across Africa for such for organizations such as Bread for the World, Steudtner had only loose ties to Turkey, the website of the German weekly magazine Spiegel reported.

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 has netted journalists, politicians and activists.

The activists were detained on a tip-off they were working against the government, comparing them to those involved in a failed putsch in July past year.

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In addition to Eser, activists from the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and the Human Rights' Agenda Association were jailed. "This is a moment of truth, for Turkey and for the global community", he added.

"Turkey will be disgraced in the eyes of the world if these human rights defenders are put in prison for defending human rights", Gardner said.

Berlin slammed as "unjustified" the detention of the German national.

The U.S. condemned the detentions of the activists and called for their immediate release. "It's impossible to speak o fair hearings in an environment where there is no objective and independent judiciary". Prosecutors had referred to two campaigns led by Amnesty, which weren't authored by Amnesty Turkey, the rights group said.

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