Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused the international human rights organisation Amnesty International of preparing a new coup attempt in the country, citing intelligence data.
On Wednesday, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey Idil Eser and seven other Turkish human rights activists, as well as German and Swedish nationals, were detained during a conference on the Buyukada Island near Istanbul. On Thursday and Saturday, Amnesty International demanded their release.
At a press conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, one of the journalists reminded Erdogan that Amnesty International had been defending him when the then-Turkish authorities arrested him for four months in 1997. The journalist also called for the protection of detained human rights activists.
“They put me in prison because I read a poem. Why were they [activists] detained, not arrested, but detained for now? According to intelligence reports, they gathered in a hotel on Buyukada Island to discuss some way to continue the attempted coup, and so our police detained them. Now their case will be examined in court, I do not know what will be revealed as a result of the investigation,” Erdogan said.
In July 2016, a failed military coup took place in Turkey, leaving over 240 people killed and some 2,000 injured. After the incident, Ankara introduced an official state of emergency in the country. Following the coup, thousands of people, mostly officials, legal and educational workers, were detained or dismissed over alleged ties to the movement of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of masterminding the coup. Gulen has rejected the accusations and has condemned the coup attempt.