Turkey Calls 10 Foreign Diplomats Over Activists’ Release Call

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador and ambassadors of nine other countries to protest a statement calling for the release of Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and civil rights activist who was imprisoned, according to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights. (ECHR). The remarks angered government officials who accused the countries of interfering in Turkey’s judiciary.

Kavala, 64, who has been behind bars for four years, is accused of trying to overthrow the Turkish government through national demonstrations in 2013 that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He was also charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with a failed military coup in 2016.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Kavala’s release in December 2019 but Turkish authorities ignored that decision.

On Monday, the embassies of the United States and Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden said in a joint statement that the postponement of Kavala’s trial and the disclosure of new cases related to Kavala tainted democracy, the rule of law. and transparency.

“Taking into account the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on this matter, we call on Turkey to immediately release him,” said their joint statement posted on the US Embassy’s Twitter account Monday.

Turkish officials ask foreign embassies to respect the independence of the Turkish judiciary. “Several ambassadors of countries who are obliged to show their loyalty to the independence of their respective countries have gone beyond the limits and encouraged these politicians to interfere with the judiciary,” said Vice President Fuat Oktay.

Last month, the 47-member European Council – including Turkey – said it would start legal proceedings over Turkey’s abuses unless Kavala was released before the next ministerial committee meeting in November. The legal process could result in punitive action for Turkey, including the possible suspension of its membership of the organization that promotes democracy and human rights.

Kavala is known for his support of the arts and his funding of projects that promote cultural diversity and minority rights. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused him of being an accomplice to billionaire US philanthropist George Soros, whom Erdogan accuses of masterminding insurgencies in many countries.

Kavala faces life in prison without parole if found guilty. The businessman has denied all charges against him while rights groups have accused the case of being politically motivated. [ab/ka]

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