ISTANBUL (France24) — Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, October 19, summoned the ambassadors of France, the United States and eight other countries to protest a statement they issued that called for the release of imprisoned philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala in line with a European Court of Human Rights decision. The statement angered government officials who accused the countries of meddling in the Turkish judiciary.
Kavala, 64, has been kept behind bars for four years, accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through the 2013 nationwide demonstrations that started at Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He has also been charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with a failed military coup in 2016.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled for Kavala’s release in December 2019 but Turkish authorities have ignored the ruling.
On Monday, October 18, the embassies of France, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States said in a statement that delays in Kavala’s trial, the merging of different cases and the opening of a new case despite a previous acquittal “cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency.”
“Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release,” read their statement which was posted on the U.S. Embassy’s Twitter account on Monday.
Turkish officials called on the embassies to respect the “independence of the Turkish courts.”