Amnesty International President arrested, suspected of being a Gulen supporter

Taner Kilic and 22 activists and lawyers arrested. Birol Erdem, Prime Minister Yildirim's advisor, and the ex-vice-premier Bülent Arın's son-in-law also targeted. Over 120,000 people detained in government purge.

 Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Turkish authorities have arrested the local Amnesty International president, Taner Kilic, along with another 22 people for suspecting ties with Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, considered the master mind of last July’s failed coup.

According to the activist movement, the police stopped him yesterday in the western town of Izmir. "We are calling on the Turkish authorities - says Secretary-General Salil Shetty – to immediatley release Taner Kilic and other 22 lawyers."

According to Amnesty International, the arrest is evidence of how "arbitrary" Ankara's detentions have become and the repression in the months following the attempted coup. The activists claim there is no link between Kilic's arrest and work in the country for human rights, which began in 2014.

In recent days, the Turkish authorities have made several high levelarrests in the context of the purges. In early June, Birol Erdem, chief advisor to Turkish premier Binali Yildirim, also suspected of linking to Gülen's network, was detained. He has been a secretary for Justice in the past and was arrested with his wife in their residence in Ankara.

On June 5th, it was the turn of Ekrem Yeter, son-in-law of former vice-premier Bülent Arınc. He was taken inside his home and conducted in front of the prosecutor for an interrogation, after which he was sentenced to custody in prison for "belonging to a terrorist organization" (Gülen).

Since July 2016, Turkish authorities have arrested more than 45,000 people, including teachers, soldiers, intellectuals, opposition politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens. More than 135,000 public servants have been either suspended or dismissed.

The crackdown is aimed at Kurds, and sympathisers (real or assumed) of the movement led by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, US.

According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government leaders Gülen was behind the coup in Turkey that killed 270 people, wounding thousands.