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Jailed businessman Kavala marks 1,000 days in pretrial detention

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Osman Kavala, a jailed businessman and philanthropist who was targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, marked 1,000 days in pretrial detention on Monday.

“We’ve had 1,000 days stolen from our life. … My husband’s mother is over the age of 90, and she doesn’t know whether she will ever see her son again,” his wife, Ayşe Buğra, said during an online press conference Saturday, according to AFP.

The 62-year-old was excluded when April legislation allowed for the release of thousands of prisoners as a safety measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

After his acquittal by a court in February over the 2013 anti-government protests, the police held Kavala on a separate charge, linking him to the failed coup.

He is now accused of seeking to overthrow the constitutional order and espionage.

In a message in English from his cell on Monday, Kavala criticized “unlawful practices in politically motivated cases.”

“Despite all this, and despite being one of the individuals to feel the burden of this deteriorating situation, I have not lost my hope,” he said.

Kavala is chairman of Anatolian Culture (Anadolu Kültür), which promotes human rights through art — including with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties.

The court in February ruled there was no evidence showing Kavala financed the 2013 protests over government plans to urbanize rare green space in the heart of İstanbul.

He was the only one of nine defendants kept in jail throughout the trial.

Shortly after his acquittal, Kavala faced two fresh arrest warrants including espionage charges, which he deemed as “more ridiculous than the previous” accusations.

President Erdoğan has repeatedly called Kavala an agent of US financier George Soros, whose efforts to promote democracy around the world have made him a target for several authoritarian leaders.

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