Turkish court rules to keep Osman Kavala behind bars, merges his files

The second hearing of the trial in which renowned activist Osman Kavala faces charges of “espionage” was held at Istanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 5. The court merged the case with the Gezi trial and ruled to keep Kavala behind bars. Meanwhile, President Erdoğan on Feb. 5 targeted Kavala's wife Prof. Dr. Ayşe Buğra, an academic at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, by referring to her as a “provocateur” and Kavala a “representative” of George Soros in Turkey.

Duvar English

An Istanbul court on Feb. 5 ruled to keep renowned activist Osman Kavala behind bars and merged the current case file with the Gezi Park trial. 

Kavala attended the hearing held at the Istanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court via video link, emphasizing once again that there is “no concrete evidence” justifying his pre-trial detention.

"It is unlikely that an impartial observer objectively assessing the events and facts would fail to figure out the fact that espionage charges brought against me - devoid of legal basis and in contravention of their very definition in the law - were intended to rebut the ECHR judgment calling for my immediate release,” Kavala told the court, during the second hearing in the trial of "coup" and "espionage" charges. 

Kavala also referred to the Istanbul appeals' court's previous decision to reverse the acquittal ruling in the Gezi Park trial, saying the move “will serve to keep the politically-motivated allegations about the Gezi protests on the agenda.”

“It will also enable to prolong the life of espionage charges, which are about to collapse as your Court has been incapacitated, and accordingly my continued detention based on these charges,” he said.

The first hearing in the retrial of the Gezi case will be on May 21.

Erdoğan targets Kavala's wife Prof. Dr. Ayşe Buğra

Meanwhile, Kavala's wife Prof. Dr. Ayşe Buğra, an academic at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, reacted against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's targeting of her during a speech on Feb. 5.

“It is impossible to interpret what is happening within the process of law. This is a torture process that has been continuing for the last 3.5 years and has been getting heavier every day. I regret Erdoğan's statement and feel sorry on behalf of my country,” she was quoted as saying by online news outlet T24.

Buğra's statements came after Erdoğan targeted her during a speech in which he again referred to Boğaziçi students and academics as “provocateurs.”

“The wife of Osman Kavala, the person who is the representative of Soros in this country, is a person who is among these provocateurs at Boğaziçi University,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan has several times in the past personally attacked Kavala, calling him the agent in Turkey of US financier George Soros.

Critics say Turkey’s judiciary has been exploited to punish Erdogğn’s perceived opponents. The president and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) say the courts make independent decisions.

Kavala has been in prison in Turkey for more than three years without a conviction. His case has drawn condemnation from around the world, with several rights groups calling for his immediate release.

Immediately after he was acquitted in February 2020 of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013, Kavala was arrested again on charges related to a failed coup in 2016.

Kavala applied to the Constitutional Court last year saying his detention was unlawful and therefore violated his right to liberty and security.

But the General Assembly of the Constitutional Court on Dec. 29, 2020 ruled by an 8-7 margin that Kavala's continued detention did not amount to a violation.