Turkey summons envoys from 10 countries over Kavala release call

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of 10 countries, including the United States, France and Germany, over a joint call for the immediate release of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala.

The envoys were summoned to the ministry in Ankara after they published statements on social media criticising Kavala’s imprisonment, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday, citing unidentified diplomatic sources.

“As of today, Osman Kavala has been detained for four years. His ongoing case has cast a shadow over democracy and rule of law in Turkey,” the U.S. embassy said on Twitter late on Monday.

The U.S. diplomatic mission published a link to a joint statement with countries that also included Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

“Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his (Kavala’s) urgent release,” the statement said.

Kavala was arrested in October 2017 accused of attempting to overthrow the government by allegedly funding and organising the massive anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, which began over the planned destruction of a small urban park in Istanbul. He faces life in prison for seeking to overthrow the constitutional order and a further 20 years if convicted of additional charges of espionage.

“We urge Turkey to ensure the transparency of its judiciary system and the full application of the rule of law, in line with its domestic laws and international obligations,” the Canadian embassy in Ankara said on Twitter.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled for Kavala’s release in December 2019, saying his rights to liberty and security and a speedy decision on the lawfulness of his detention had been violated. “The authorities had "pursued an ulterior purpose, namely to silence him as a human rights defender," the ECHR said. The Turkish courts have refused to comply, despite Turkey’s constitution requiring them to do so.

Kavala's next court hearing is scheduled for November 26.

Kavala said over the weekend that his imprisonment was based on the government needing to keep alive the fiction that the Gezi Park protests were based on a foreign conspiracy.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of ECHR rulings, is due to decide in December whether to sanction Turkey for its continued detention of Kavala.

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