Büyükada case: a decisive opportunity for Turkey to show respect for international standards 

Press Releases 

Leading MEPs call on Turkey to protect human rights defenders and leave open space for civil society and pluralism, which is a key element of the accession process.

The European Parliament´s standing rapporteur for Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D, ES), and the Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Sergey Lagodinsky,(Greens/EFA, DE) said:

“After recent disappointing judiciary decisions on landmark cases such as the one of Osman Kavala, the final hearing and sentence tomorrow of the emblematic ‘Büyükada case’ represents a decisive opportunity to clarify if Turkey abides by its international commitments and standards or if the country further moves apart from them.

We believe that a true, open space for civil society and pluralism is a fundamental pillar for any democratic society and it is a key element of the accession process. In this regard, the activities of human rights defenders should be protected by the state, not prosecuted.

We remain hopeful that the upcoming judiciary decision will mark a change of course and not yet another blow against the independent civil society in Turkey, whose space has shrunk dramatically over the last years.

We encourage Turkish authorities to advance towards a serious judicial reform, bringing it into line with the required standards of the EU and those of the Council of Europe, of which the country is a full member. In this sense, the respect and enforcement of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights remains an indispensable first step.”


The ‘Büyükada trial’ involves 11 human rights defenders who risk up to 15 years of jail term on alleged terrorism-related charges. Ten activists were detained in a police raid in July 2017, while attending a digital security training workshop on Büyükada island, off Istanbul. They were charged with aiding terrorist organizations, including the network led by the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, which the Turkish government blames for the 2016 coup attempt. The 11th activist, Amnesty International´s former Turkey chairman, Taner Kilic, was detained separately a month earlier in the city of Izmir and accused of membership in Fethullah Gülen’s network.

The other ten accused persons are: İdil Eser (Former Director of AI Turkey); Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association and member of AI Turkey); Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly and founding member of AI Turkey); Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association and member of AI Turkey); Ali Gharavi (Swedish national, Digital strategy and wellbeing consultant); Peter Steudtner (German national, non-violent communication, digital strategy and well-being consultant); Nalan Erkem (lawyer, Citizens’ Assembly and a member of AI Turkey); İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition); Şeyhmus Özbekli (lawyer, Rights Initiative); and Nejat Taştan (Association for Monitoring Equal Rights).