Turkish police detain Amnesty International chief, group says

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The Trump administration criticized the Turkish government Wednesday after police in that country detained a prominent human rights lawyer as part of a crackdown on people suspected of links to a USA -based cleric accused of masterminding a failed coup.

The chairman of Amnesty International Turkey has been detained in the western city of Izmir along with 22 other lawyers over alleged links to the Gulen movement, an organization that the country blames for last year's coup attempt, according to Turkish authorities and the UK-based rights group.

Turkey accuses Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, and his group of orchestrating the coup attempt last summer, which killed about 300 people and led to arrests in the country. In 2012, 60 Minutes examined why Gulen is in the U.S.

State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said the USA was "deeply concerned" by the arrest of Taner Kilic in at his home in the western Turkish city of Izmir along with 22 other attorneys. We are closely following these cases, and underscore the importance of respect for due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution and consistent with Turkey's own worldwide commitments.

"As we have expressed to the Turkish government on numerous occasions, persistent curbs on free speech and other freedoms erode the foundations of democratic society", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty announced on Tuesday that Kilic was arrested along with 22 other lawyers.

In November 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Gulen a "leader of a terrorist organization", on "60 Minutes".

"In Turkey, they attempted to destroy my state", Erdogan said. And these measures are being taken by prosecutors and judges in full accordance with the rule of law.

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