EU welcomes release of activists in Turkey, asks for more

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Activist Peter Steudtner (2nd R) of Germany and Ali Gharavi (C) of Sweden talk to the media after their release from Silivri prison in Istanbul on October 26, 2017. Eight human rights activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, were greeted by celebrating relatives and supporters as they were released from jail near Istanbul early on October 26. / AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL

The European Union on Thursday welcomed the release of eight human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey chief Idil Eser, by an Istanbul court and asked for further positive steps to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey.

“The release on bail of those arrested in Büyükada Island in July, among them Amnesty International’s Turkey Director, is encouraging news. As their trial as well as investigations and trials of many journalists, academics, human rights defenders and other civil society activists continue, further positive steps are needed to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey and address the serious issues in the areas of rule of law,” Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said in a written statement.

“The recent detention of Osman Kavala, Chairman of Anadolu Kültür, a trusted interlocutor and advocate of sound EU-Turkey relations, is the latest among worrying cases that need a very swift resolution on the basis of the principle of presumption of innocence and the application of pre-trial detention in line with the European Convention on Human Rights,” added Kocijancic.

Kavala was detained by Turkish police upon his arrival at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on Oct. 18.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said detained human rights activist and prominent businessman Kavala was behind the Gezi protests of 2013, calling him Turkey’s George Soros.

“The facts of Turkey’s Soros have been revealed. His connections have been exposed. Who are you trying to fool? The same person is behind the Taksim events [Gezi Park protests]. You can also see those who are behind financial support for some places. We will stand against those who try to hit this nation from within. We will pay them back,” said Erdoğan during his party group meeting in Parliament.

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