Jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala has released a statement on the sixth anniversary of his arrest expressing hope for restoration of the rule of law in Turkey.
Kavala has been in prison since Nov. 1, 2017 without substantial evidence to justify the charges against him.
#OsmanKavala'dan cezaevindeki 6. yılında açıklama:
— Kavala'ya Özgürlük (@FreeOsmanKavala) November 1, 2023
In his statement, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Kavala said he has been held for six years without any concrete evidence of criminal activity. “While waiting for this to end, my situation has worsened due to a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals,” Kavala stated.
The philanthropist also mentioned his receipt of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, saying that while he felt honored, he couldn’t fully celebrate the award. Kavala cited ongoing global issues, such as the violence in Gaza, as reasons for his subdued response to the honor. “I hope all international organizations will show more sensitivity to the injustices that fuel the environment of terror and violence, especially in Palestine,” he said.
Kavala, 66, faced changing charges that have ranged from espionage and financing protests in 2013 to taking part in a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.
He was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to life in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple Erdoğan’s government.
Turkey’s refusal to abide by European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings to immediately release Kavala has damaged Ankara’s relations with Western allies.
The Council of Europe launched an infringement proceeding against Turkey over its treatment of Kavala that could potentially see Ankara expelled from the continent’s leading human rights organization.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recently adopted a resolution urging Turkey to comply with the judgments of the ECtHR and calling for Kavala’s immediate release. The resolution also suggests applying targeted sanctions on Turkish officials involved in Kavala’s “unlawful and arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
Critics say his case highlights the deterioration of Turkey’s rights record in the second decade of Erdoğan’s rule.