Jailed philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala has said that none of the indictments against him contain a shred of evidence and his imprisonment violates the elementary principles of rule of law.
“I am in jail since three years. They are trying to maintain my imprisonment with a chain of legal cases. None of the investigations against me are legally enough to keep me here. I have not seen a single prosecutor in any of the arrest decisions,” Kavala was quoted as saying by T24 online news portal.
Kavala made the remarks to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Utku Çakırözer who visited him at the Silivri Prison.
“I have been acquitted in the Gezi trial which was the only case in which I appeared before the judge. When that was over, they brought new charges, this time based on July 15 [2016 coup attempt]. And a release decision was given on that second file within the framework of judiciary reform,” Kavala said, referring to the new law that provides early release for some of the prisoners amid the novel coronavirus.
Kavala said that the reason of his current imprisonment is based on “trumped-up charges of espionage.” He said that as no new evidence against him has been brought forward with this third investigation, the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) verdict of rights violation with regards to the first two cases is also valid for the third one. “So, I need to be freed immediately, but who is listening!” he said.
“They are keeping me, journalists and politicians in jail by force through case files which have no basis. When I look at my own judiciary process, it is very sad to see how bad the quality of the judiciary has become in the country.”
Kavala was arrested on Nov. 1, 2017 as part of an investigation concerning the Gezi Park protests of 2013. Although he was cleared of charges in this case on Feb. 18, he was re-arrested the following day, this time accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in a failed coup in 2016.
The ECHR on Dec. 10, 2019 ruled that Turkey violated the rights of Kavala and called for his immediate release. It cited a “lack of reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed an offense” in its ruling.
On March 9, one day before Turkey objected to the ECHR judgment’s ruling, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office filed “new” charges against the jailed activist, this time accusing him of committing “political and military espionage.”
As the ECHR’s ruling pertains to Kavala’s imprisonment stemming from the Gezi Park trial, the philanthropist has not been released, legal experts have said.
However the opposition and NGOs have pointed out that the “new” investigation is in fact the same one under which the authorities had initially put Kavala in jail in 2017. They said that the prosecutors had refashioned their old investigation into a brand new charge in an attempt to keep Kavala in jail. They said that as no other evidence is cited in the new investigation file than the ones brought forward on the first day of Kavala’s arrest, the jailed activist needs to be released immediately.