ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - A court in Istanbul on Tuesday ordered six human rights advocates be kept in jail pending their trial, among them the Director of Amnesty International (AI) in Turkey, Idil Eser who the police arrested in a raid on a workshop earlier this month.
A prosecutor accused Eser and others of aiding an armed "terror group" by organizing the July 5 meeting related to human rights, held in Istanbul's Buyukada island in the inner sea of Marmara.
The judge ordered the release of four other activists being held in police custody although a trial against them would ensue.
The court barred those released from traveling outside Turkey and required them to check in with local police regularly.
A Swedish national, Ali Gharavi, and German filmmaker Peter Steudtner were among the imprisoned, according to Kurdistan24's Turkish language service.
Citing judicial sources, the state-funded Anadolu Agency said Eser had links with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against the Turkish army for greater Kurdish rights.
Prosecutors also charged Eser with having ties to members of the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government blame for the coup attempt.
The jailings came as the Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated Parliament extended, for a fourth time, the state of emergency granting authorities extraordinary powers.
Shortly after 12 people attending the workshop were arrested, Erdogan accused them of "convening in a nature of a continuation" of last year's botched military coup attempt against his rule.
On Monday, US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass paid a visit to Amnesty's headquarters in Istanbul.
AI in a tweet said that Bass' visit showed solidarity with the detained activists.
Bass, much to the dismay of pro-government Twitter users, could be seen in a picture holding a placard that read "Turkey: Release all human rights defenders."
The US Ambassador's show of solidarity with the jailed activists is likely to deteriorate the already-strained ties between Ankara and Washington further.
Pro-government media described the police raid in Buyukada as "a hunt for spies," alleging the activists were engaged in espionage.
An online petition on the Turkish AI website urging Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag to release Eser and others said the detainees were victims of "thought crime."
"They all face criminal investigations on the absurd suspicion of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organization," said AI international in a statement.
"The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights," AI concluded, promising to march and speak out for the activists' freedom.
Editing by G.H. Renaud