Detention of Osman Kavala linked to Gülen investigations
The prominent activist and businessman Osman Kavala is reported to have been detained as part of the investigation on Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption probes, as well as the investigation into the July 2016 coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by the Gülen network.
The December 2013 graft investigations targeted figures close to the government, including four ministers at the time and their family members. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said Gülenist prosecutors were behind the probe, which was subsequently closed after both the judicial processes and a parliamentary inquiry into the matter were dropped. The four ministers involved in the probe later resigned from their posts.
Kavala was detained early on Oct. 19 at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport but there was no immediate statement from the government or police regarding the detention.
According to newly surfaced information, 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 the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Speaking 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 at the parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), 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 said, accusing Kavala of plotting the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park protests.
The U.S. and French governments have blasted Turkey over the detention of Kavala. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Oct. 19 that the incident was a “very alarming trend” in the detention of civil society leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and activists in Turkey.
The French Foreign Ministry also stated on Oct. 19 that it was “worried” by the detention of Kavala, describing him as “one of the most important and respected figures of the Turkish cultural scene and of civil society.”
Kavala is the chairman of the Anadolu Kültür A.Ş. and is also the co-founder of İletişim Publishing House.