US State Department: Osman Kavala should be released

The US State Department in a press statement on Monday called for the release of Turkish philanthropist and civil society leader Osman Kavala, who has spent 1,000 days in detention without being convicted of any crime.

“The United States underscores the importance of respecting international obligations and commitments. We call upon Turkey to comply with its own commitment to justice and rule of law and to release Osman Kavala from detention, while pursuing a just, transparent, and speedy resolution to his case,” the statement read.

Kavala, a businessman and civil rights activist, was accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government by orchestrating and financing the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which led to his eventual imprisonment.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on December 10, 2019 found a violation upon reviewing Kavala’s application, calling for his immediate release. On May 12 the Strasbourg court rejected an appeal from the Turkish government, with which the court’s ruling became final. Turkey, however, refused to abide by the ruling.

The ECtHR found that Kavala’s detention was aimed at silencing him, adding that it was “likely to have a dissuasive effect on the work of human rights defenders.”

The prominent activist was acquitted of charges in the Gezi Park trial on February 18, only to be re-arrested a few hours later on charges related to a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey in a newly launched case.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the jailed businessman the “Turkish Soros,” a reference to Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, who is the target of international conspiracies on organizing public protests aimed at overthrowing governments.

To mark Kavala’s 1,000 days in prison, Bärbel Kofler, human rights policy and humanitarian assistance commissioner at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also issued a statement on Sunday.

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