President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has crushed expectations for the release of prominent human rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.
"Where we stand is clear. There are no changes in our course," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Nov. 22, in an apparent response to Bülent Arınç, a member of the Presidential High Advisory Board, who recently criticized the indictments into Kavala and Demirtaş.
"Demirtaş might be released. Osman Kavala needs to be released," Arınç said on Nov. 19, adding that pre-trial detentions should be the last resort, while also urging judges not to rule for arrest unless it is an “exceptional” situation.
Erdoğan, in response, accused Arınç without naming him personally of trying to cause trouble within the party "via using our emphasis on reforms as an excuse."
"We see that trouble is being tried to be caused by using our emphasis on our reform agenda as an excuse through some personal statements that are absolutely not related to us. No one's personal statements can be linked to our government and party even if we worked together in the past," Erdoğan said.
"Those who are involved in terrorism can't be individuals that we are in contact with," he added.
Despite previous court orders for their release, Demirtaş has been in prison for more than four years while Kavala, a philanthropist accused of helping organize the attempted coup, has been jailed for more than three years.
If convicted, Demirtaş faces up to 142 years in jail on terrorism charges. Kavala, now jailed on espionage charges related to the 2016 failed coup, was earlier acquitted from charges related to the anti-government Gezi Park Protests in 2013.
Erdoğan said that "those who caused the deaths of thousands of people can never be defended" by his comrades, reiterating his accusations that Demirtaş is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
On Kavala, Erdoğan said, "We can never be the defender of those who financed Gezi Protests. We can stand with Kavala."
"We reject attempts to causing trouble. We ask you to be careful against them as well," he told AKP members.
Erdoğan 'content' with People's Alliance
Erdoğan also said that the party is content with the course of the People's Alliance consisting of the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
"We were sincere when we protected the People's Alliance and we're content with its course," he said, apparently responding to reports of a rift between the two parties over a mafia leader's remarks.
Alaattin Çakıcı, a notorious mafia leader, threatened main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for criticizing the government.
While MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli defended his mafia leader friend, AKP officials said that threatening the main opposition leader is "unacceptable" and the judiciary will do what's necessary.