Court arrests Turkish activist Osman Kavala over failed coup attempt
An Istanbul court has ruled for the arrest of a Turkish businessman and activist over alleged links to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and the December 2013 corruption probes targeting senior government figures.
Osman Kavala, who was detained at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport upon his return from the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Oct. 18, was arrested on Nov. 1 on charges of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order” and “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic.”
The December 2013 corruption cases targeted figures close to the government and resulted in lasting enmity between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Kavala of being among the “managers and organizers” of the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park protests.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the protests were “supported by outlawed terror groups,” cited as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
Kavala is also accused of being in contact with “one of the organizers” of the thwarted coup, widely believed to have been masterminded by FETÖ. The prosecutor’s office says he had “unusually intense” contact with Henry Barkey and “other foreigners involved in the coup attempt.”
The detention of Kavala, the chairman of the Anadolu Kültür (Anatolian Culture) NGO, which focuses on cultural collaboration with Europe, and the co-founder of the İletişim publishing house, has drawn strong criticism from the U.S. and Europe.
The U.S. State Department described Kavala’s initial detention as an example of a “very alarming trend” of detention of civil society leaders, journalists, academics and activists in Turkey.
European Parliament Rapporteur Kati Piri also condemned Kavala’s detention.
“Very disturbing news that Osman Kavala has been detained in Istanbul. Will propose in [the European Parliament] to launch urgent call for his release!” Piri tweeted on Oct. 19.
Recent reports said Kavala was detained within the scope of the same investigation file as U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz, who was arrested on Oct. 4 over alleged ties to Gülenists.
In a speech on Oct. 24, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched on the detention of Kavala and hinted at a link between him and Topuz.
“Their links are surfacing,” Erdoğan said, referring to Kavala indirectly as “Turkey’s Soros,” in reference to prominent Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.
“We will continue to stand firm against those who attempt to hit this nation from inside,” he added, accusing Kavala of plotting the Gezi Park protests.