The Council of Europe, a human rights rights organization, has initiated proceedings against Turkey for its failure to release businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala. The European Court of Human Rights had already requested the release two years ago. Turkey is a member of the Council and therefore must comply with its decisions.
At the end of October, Turkey threatened to expel ten other ambassadors, including the Dutch, because they jointly called for Kavala’s release. Erdogan found this call “irresponsible” and wanted to declare the 10 people persona non grata. Eventually it faded: the ambassadors were allowed to stay anyway.
Kavala was acquitted last year after being sentenced to life in prison for financing protests in Istanbul in 2013, but was promptly charged with involvement in the failed coup in 2016. A Turkish judge recently decided to hold Kavala for a longer period.
Four years in prison
The 64-year-old businessman and philanthropist was arrested at Istanbul Airport in October 2017 after visiting a cultural project in cooperation with the German Goethe-Institut in Gaziantep. He has now been imprisoned for four years without being convicted of anything. The European Court of Human Rights decided in 2019 to release the businessman.
“By not releasing Kavala, Turkey has refused to comply with the court’s ruling,” the Council of Europe said in a statement. Actions against Turkey may eventually lead to its exclusion from the council, but that is not the intent of the case. Ankara has until January 19 to respond.
The council also demanded the immediate release of the Turkish politician Selahattin Demirtaş. The former leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (HDP) has been detained in Turkey since November 2016 on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. Turkey believes that the Council of Europe is interfering in its internal affairs.
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