A number of European foundations and cultural institutions denied espionage accusations listed in the new indictment into prominent philanthropist, human rights activists and businessman Osman Kavala.
In a joint statement, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Goethe Institute, the European Cultural Foundation and the Mercator Foundation addressed members of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the German Bundestag for them to insist on the Turkish government's compliance with the obligations it has entered into under the European Convention on Human Rights regarding Kavala's imprisonment.
Saying that Turkey didn't abide by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Kavala must be released immediately, the institutions and foundations noted that Kavala "is an outstanding actor in Turkish civil society and has set up and promoted many initiatives for dialogue between Germany and Turkey."
They also criticized the Oct. 8 indictment's claims that Kavala is linked to the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt and espionage accusations aimed at European and American groups.
"The new bill of indictment accuses European and American organizations that operate in Turkey of engaging in intelligence activities. As organizations that are committed to building relations with Turkey and its people, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or political opinions, we categorically reject this accusation," read the statement.
"We work in different ways to promote exchange with Turkish society with a view to strengthening European-Turkish relations. We firmly believe that there are few viable alternatives to encounters, discussions and a joint search for the right path into the future. We can only achieve this by working together with Turkish partners on the basis of trust. With partners who are committed to dialogue and shared values such as the rule of law, open-mindedness and tolerance," it said, adding that Kavala is one of those partners.
The organizations noted that Kavala has "devoted himself for many years to a better understanding between Turkey and Europe, as well as between people in Turkey" and that his imprisonment is an attempt to "criminalize this dialogue."
"This course of action will harm not least Turkey itself in its efforts to paint a more positive picture of Turkey abroad, to attract foreign visitors and to present itself as an attractive economic partner for Europe. Without bridge-builders between Europe and Turkey there can be no joint future," they said.
"We believe it is important for the Council of Europe to provide impetus for the reshaping of European-Turkish relations. A common understanding of constitutional and democratic principles must form the basis for lasting cooperative structures with Turkey. Among other things, this requires the Turkish government to meet the obligations to which it has committed itself. Without freedom there can be no basis for dialogue and exchange – it is the duty of the Council of Europe to translate this certainty into political action," the statement added.