Council of Europe pressures Turkey to free activist Kavala

Detained despite European Court of Human Rights ruling

23 September, 16:08

    STRASBOURG - Turkish authorities, including the judiciary, must comply and insure the immediate release from prison of Osman Kavala, a renown businessman and political opponent who has been imprisoned since 2017, despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 10 December 2019 which requested the man's immediate release. The Council of Europe continues to exercise pressure on Ankara with a decision reached by the committee of ministers. This decision comes a few weeks after the ECHR reiterated that by not setting Kavala free, Turkey is in breach of its obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe.

    The renewed pressure goes hand in hand with the request by the Irish presidency to begin to examine which further action could be taken to convince Turkey to set Kavala free and, what needs to be done in case Turkey should refuse to comply. Should Ankara continue for a prolonged period to refuse to free Kavala, it risks expulsion for the Council of Europe.

    Last February, the judges of the Caglayan court in Istanbul decided the activist, arrested 4 years ago, should remain in prison despite the request for his release by the ECHR in 2019.

    Kavala, together with Kurdish Selahattin Demirtas are the most popular and known face of the opposition to Erdogan. Despite the fact that their imprisonment has damaged EU-Turkish relations, pushing Ankara's possible EU adhesion further and further away, the Turkish head of state has already shown on many occasions that he refuses to back down.

    Kavala was imprisoned for his alleged role in the attempted coup against the Turkish leader of the summer of 2016 and he had been previously accused of financing the anti-government protests in Istanbul in 2013. Erdogan has repeatedly pointed his figure against the activist, accusing him of being the representative in Turkey of George Soros' interests, leading to the closure of the Open Society offices, belonging to the Hungarian magnate, in Ankara in 2018.

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