Germany, France demand immediate release of activist Kavala ahead of Gezi retrial

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Representatives of the German and French governments have called on Turkey to immediately release prominent businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been behind bars since October 2017 on what many say are politically motivated charges.

The joint statement by Bärbel Kofler, the federal government commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid at the Federal Foreign Office, and French Ambassador for Human Rights Delphine Borione was released on Wednesday regarding the retrial of Kavala and his codefendants starting on May 21.

“Osman Kavala has been behind bars for almost 1300 days, even though the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) demanded his release a year and a half ago. Turkey’s treatment of Osman Kavala and the non-implementation of the ECtHR judgment is not worthy of a state governed by the rule of law or with longstanding membership of the Council of Europe,” the statement said.

The representatives called on Turkey to “urgently respect its international obligations and to release Osman Kavala without further delay.”

The ECtHR determined on Dec. 10, 2019, that the prolonged pre-trial detention of Kavala, director of the Turkish cultural foundation Anadolu Kültür, was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and demanded his immediate release.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has repeatedly called on Turkey to implement the judgement on Kavala.

On Feb. 18, 2020, a local court acquitted him of charges of attempting to overthrow the state through involvement in 2013 nationwide Gezi Park protests. He was rearrested the same day on charges related to a 2016 abortive putsch in Turkey in a move described by his lawyers as a tactic to circumvent the ECtHR ruling.

Kavala was most recently on trial for charges that include “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “obtaining confidential information of the state for political or military espionage.”

An appeals court overturned his acquittal in January 2021 and a judge combined the two cases against Kavala into one in early February.

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