Amnesty International has called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will travel to Turkey this week, to take action for the release of jailed businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala as well as other activists during her visit to the country.
Merkel was to travel to Turkey on Thursday and meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul on Friday.
“Concrete steps to end the repression against human rights defenders must be the focus of talks between Angela Merkel and the Turkish president, ” Amnesty Turkey expert Andrew Gardner told German news agency DPA on Thursday.
He said it is crucial that Kavala be released and that accused human rights activists like Amnesty honorary chairman Taner Kılıç be acquitted.
Kavala has been behind bars for more than two years. The European Court of Human Rights called for his release in December. However, the Turkish judiciary ignored the court and Kavala remained in detention. Kavala and 15 other defendants are accused of attempting to overthrow the government during the anti-government Gezi protests of 2013.
In another internationally followed trial, German citizen Peter Steudtner and 10 other human rights defenders are charged with terrorist activities. A verdict is expected in February. The public prosecutor has recommended acquittal for Steudtner but a long prison sentence for Kılıç.
Kılıç, who was detained in June 2017, was released in August 2018 pending trial after spending 14 months in pre-trial detention.
Government critics and journalists in Turkey have been under pressure especially since a failed coup attempt in July 2016.