Lawyers for Osman Kavala, a prominent Turkish philanthropist and businessman who has been in jail since 2017, said that recent statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan regarding Turkey’s response to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Kavala constitute an admission that the case against their client is political, the Serbestiyet news website reported.
During budget talks in parliament, Fidan asserted that the case against Kavala had become politicized in Europe, and, consequently, was incurring “political” reactions from Turkey.
Kavala’s attorneys, Köksal Bayraktar and Deniz Tolga Aytöre, countered Fidan’s remarks, indicating that his comments inadvertently confirm the political nature of the case as perceived by Turkish authorities.
Kavala, 66, faced changing charges that have ranged from espionage and financing protests in 2013 to taking part in a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.
He was arrested in October 2017 and sentenced to life in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple Erdoğan’s government.
Turkey’s refusal to abide by ECtHR rulings to immediately release Kavala have 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 ECtHR had previously ruled that the Turkish authorities did not have reasonable suspicion to justify Kavala’s arrest and suggested political motives behind his detention.
This ruling indicated a violation of Articles 5 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, demanding Kavala’s immediate release and the dismissal of charges against him.
The lawyers emphasized that demands from the Council of Europe for Turkey to fulfill its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights do not politicize the case.
They stated that these demands arise from legal obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe and under Turkey’s constitution.
Critics say Kavala’s case highlights the deterioration of Turkey’s rights record in the second decade of Erdoğan’s rule.
Turkey was ranked 117th out of 142 countries in the rule of law index by the World Justice Project in October 2023.