Coveney says arrest of Amnesty executive in Turkey is "disturbing development"

Idil Eser was arrested during a police raid on a conference attended by human rights activists. She has not yet been allowed to contact colleagues or lawyers

Idil Eser was arrested during a police raid on a conference attended by human rights activists. She has not yet been allowed to contact colleagues or lawyers

The human rights organization said they were arrested "blatantly without cause".

International Amnesty today denounced the arrest of her Turkish head of state in the country along with other human rights defenders on an island off of Istanbul and called for their immediate release.

"As with past arrests of prominent human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and activists, we underscore the importance of respecting due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, and consistent with Turkey's own worldwide commitments", Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement. Among those detained were Eser and seven other human rights activists, two foreign trainers - a German and a Swedish national - as well as the hotel owner, Amnesty's statement said.

Turkey has cracked down on the press, human rights activists, and government opponents since last year's failed coup.

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"As with past arrests of prominent human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and activists, we underscore the importance of respecting due process and individual rights, as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, and consistent with Turkey's own worldwide commitments", Nauert said. The whereabouts of those held were unknown.

Amnesty International's Turkey chair, Taner Kilic, is also in police custody.

On June 6, Chair of Amnesty in Turkey, Taner Kilic, along with 22 other lawyers were also detained in Izmir as part of an ongoing crackdown against those suspected of having links to the self-exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen who is blamed by Turkey for the failed coup past year. He was arrested on 6 June with 22 other lawyers and charged with membership of a "terrorist" organisation.

Turkey remains under a state of emergency under orders of its President Tayyip Erdogan. "More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times", Nauert said.