Ten foreign embassies call for immediate release of Osman Kavala

Ten foreign embassies in Turkey have released a joint statement calling for the immediate release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been jailed for four years without conviction. The statement was slammed by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who found it "unacceptable for ambassadors to make suggestions in an ongoing case."

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The embassies of the U.S., Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden have called on Turkey to immediately release philanthropist Osman Kavala, who is behind bars for four years.

“Today marks four years since the ongoing detention of Osman Kavala began. The continuing delays in his trial, including by merging different cases and creating new ones after a previous acquittal, cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system,” said their joint statement, which was shared on the website of the U.S. embassy.

The statement said Turkey is obliged by international and domestic laws to ensure a “just and speedy resolution” to Kavala's case.

“Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release,” they said.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu slammed the embassies over their statement, saying that they were trying to influence the judiciary.

"It is unacceptable of ambassadors to make suggestions or to inculcate in an ongoing case. Your suggestion and inculcation overshadow your understanding of law and democracy," Soylu tweeted. 

On Oct. 8, an Istanbul court opened the re-trial of Kavala over the Gezi Park protests of 2013, in a case which has been a source of growing concern among Turkey's Western allies. The court extended Kavala's imprisonment and postponed the hearing to Nov. 26.

The acquittals in the case targeting Kavala were overturned in January, and later combined with the trial against the Çarşı football fan group over the same protests.

A separate case against Kavala over his alleged involvement in a 2016 coup attempt was also combined with the Gezi Park case.

Kavala has been jailed for four years without conviction despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for his release. The Council of Europe said last month it would begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if he is not released in line with the ECHR ruling.

Critics say Turkey's judiciary has been exploited to punish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's perceived opponents. The president and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) argue that the courts make independent decisions.