Noam Chomsky has called for the immediate release of businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been behind bars for over 1,000 days on bogus charges.
“Osman Kavala, who I remember very well from my visits to Turkey. Strong, passionate, defender of human rights and justice. He has been in prison for over 1,000 days on frivolous charges,” Chomsky said on Oct. 13.
“The European Court of Human Rights has demanded that he be released. Now we should all strongly support that demand. Kavala should be released immediately and such criminal acts of state repression should never be tolerated,” he added.
On Oct. 8, a Turkish court approved an indictment accusing Kavala of helping organize an attempted coup in 2016, his lawyers said, eight months after he was acquitted on charges of financing nationwide protests in 2013.
In the new indictment, Kavala is accused of collaborating with Henri Barkey, a prominent Turkey scholar in the United States. The indictment accuses Barkey of links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, widely believed to have been behind the July 2016 botched coup.
Kavala, in jail for nearly three years, was acquitted in February along with eight others of charges related to the Gezi protests.
A court ordered Kavala’s release in February, but the same day a new detention warrant was issued for him related to the failed coup.
Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups have called for Kavala’s release and voiced concern that his indictment points to a politicization of Turkey’s justice system.
In a statement, Kavala’s lawyers said the court had cleared the indictment, which they said was no more than “presumptive fiction” and was not based on any concrete evidence.
Nacho Sanchez Amor, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, said the indictment “without any real evidence is outrageous”. He said it “disdains” a European Court of Human Rights ruling that called for Kavala’s immediate release.
Amnesty International called the indictment “absurd.”