UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The European Court of Human Rights called on Turkey on Tuesday to immediately release businessman and activist Osman Kavala, saying there was no credible evidence that he had committed a crime.
Kavala has been imprisoned for more than two years while he is on trial for trying to topple the government on the grounds that he organized and funded protests across the country in 2013 against then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kavala, who faces a life sentence if convicted, denies these allegations.
The indictment cites Kavala’s phone calls, during which he was discussing transporting baked goods, milk, juice and gas masks to protesters, as evidence that he funded the protests.
“With the lack of facts, information or evidence to show that Mr. Kavala was involved in criminal activity, it is unreasonable to suspect that he attempted to overthrow the government using force or violence,” the European Court said, calling on the authorities to release him.
In a pro-Kavala ruling, she added that his arrest was aimed at silencing him, and that “he will likely have a deterrent effect on the work of human rights defenders”.
The rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are legally binding, but Turkey has not implemented them repeatedly.
The Turkish Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the European Court of Human Rights ruling issued on Tuesday.
Critics of Erdogan’s government have questioned the independence of Turkish courts, especially since the crackdown that followed the failed coup in 2016. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party say the judgments are independent.
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