Turkey’s Foreign Ministry convened ambassadors from France, the United States and eight other countries on Tuesday to protest a statement they issued calling for the release of jailed philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala pursuant to a decision. of the European Court of Human Rights. The statement angered government officials who accused the countries of meddling with the Turkish judiciary.
Kavala, 64, has been behind bars for four years, accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through the 2013 national demonstrations that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He has also been charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with a failed military coup in 2016.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Kavala’s release in December 2019, but the Turkish authorities have ignored the ruling.
This Monday, the embassies of France, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States said in a statement that delays in the Kavala trial, the merger of different cases and the opening of a The new case despite a previous acquittal “casts a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency.”
“Taking note of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we ask Turkey to ensure his urgent release,” reads his statement that was published on the Twitter account of the US Embassy on Monday.
>> The defendants in the Gezi Park trial were acquitted, but a new arrest warrant was issued for Osman Kavala
Turkish officials called on embassies to respect the “independence of the Turkish courts.”
“The ambassadors of some countries who are obliged to show loyalty to the independence of the countries in which they serve … have exceeded their limits and demanded that (politicians) interfere with the judiciary,” said Vice President Fuat Oktay.
Last month, the 47-member Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member, said it would initiate infringement proceedings against Turkey, unless Kavala is released before its next committee of ministers meeting in November. The infringement procedure could result in punitive measures against Turkey, including its possible suspension from the organization that promotes democracy and human rights.
Kavala is known for its support of the arts and its funding of projects that promote cultural diversity and minority rights. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused him of being the “Turkish leg” of US billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who, according to Erdogan, has been behind insurrections in many countries.
Kavala faces a life sentence without parole if convicted. The businessman has rejected all the charges against him, while human rights groups have denounced the case against him for political reasons.