An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of Osman Kavala on new charges of espionage within the framework of an ongoing investigation against the philanthropist. Kavala is currently imprisoned at the Silivri Prison for his supposed involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has accused Kavala of “carrying out activities for foreign states,” according to an arrest warrant document seen by Ahmet Şık, a deputy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The document submitted to the court has cited Kavala’s alleged contact with U.S. academic Henri Barkey as evidence against the philanthropist in the investigation. Prosecutors likewise accuse Barkey of being a foreign agent and plotting the 2016 failed coup attempt. Barkey regards charges as absurd and ludicrous.
Late on March 9, Kavala gave his testimony to the court via the judicial conferencing system SEGBİS regarding the new charges. The court later ordered Kavala’s arrest.
Although having been acquitted in the 2013 Gezi Park case, Kavala was re-arrested on Feb. 19 over charges related to the failed coup attempt of 2016.
Barkey said in an interview with Deutsche Welle Turkish on Feb. 21 that he knew Kavala only in passing and they did not ever hold a phone call.
Asked how “close” he was with Kavala, Barkey said: “We do not in fact have a close relationship or a friendship. Kavala is my sister’s friend; that’s how I met him. Except that, we saw each other in a couple of meetings and had a quick word. We have not come together for any project either.”
The cases against Kavala have been criticized by Turkey’s Western allies and rights activists who say the charges are political.
“#OsmanKavala must be released, not face further fabricated charges that are manifestly unfounded,” Milena Buyum, Turkey campaigner for Amnesty International, said on Twitter.
In December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said there was insufficient evidence to support the accusation that Kavala had been involved in the abortive coup. That ruling will become final on March 10.
Deniz Tolga Aytöre, a lawyer for Kavala, was quoted in the court records as saying that the new warrant was aimed at circumventing the implementation of the ECHR ruling.
The independence of Turkey’s judiciary has been hotly debated in recent years. Critics say court rulings are influenced by politicians but the government says the judiciary makes its decisions independently.