Amnesty calls for release of rights activists held in Turkey

Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of a group of human rights activists detained by police while attending a training workshop on an island off Istanbul.

The seven activists, including Amnesty's Turkey director Idil Eser, and their two trainers were taken away by police late Wednesday from a hotel where a workshop on digital security was taking place. The reason for their detention was not known.

Amnesty called their detention "a grotesque abuse of power (that) highlights the precarious situation facing human rights activists" in Turkey.

The U.S. State Department also expressed concern about the activists' detention.

"Persistent curbs on freedom of expression erode the foundations of democratic society," the State Department said in a statement. "More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times."

Turkey has launched a massive crackdown since last year's failed coup, arresting some 50,000 people and dismissing more than 100,000 from government jobs. The crackdown initially focused on people with suspected ties to the alleged coup plotters, but has been extended to include other government opponents.

Last month Amnesty International's Turkey chair, Taner Kilic, was also taken into custody.