May 20 2018

Friends of Osman Kavala called for his release

Friend of the Turkish philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala released a joint statement on Sunday to call for his release, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Kavala was a founder of İletişim Publications, a prominent publishing house, and was heavily involved in think-tank TESEV, the Turkish branch of the Open Society Institute, and the human rights group Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. Kavala also headed Anadolu Kültür (Anatolian Culture), a civil society organization supporting cultural diversity inside and outside Turkey.  

Kavala was arrested on Oct. 18, 2017 on charges of trying to overthrow the government and the constitutional order. The charges are largely based on his alleged communication with organizers of a workshop held between July 15 and July 17, 2016, on the island of Büyükada, off Istanbul, namely the Middle East studies wing of the U.S.-based Smithsonian Institution. 

The prosecutors have not prepared an indictment yet, though Kavala has been jailed for six months. 

“Osman Kavala has been in jail for six months. Very powerful evidence must exist to deny someone’s freedom for so long, but there is no indictment yet,” said the joint statement.

“Members of a society do not have to be of the same opinion in every matter, but they should not be pushed into giving up hopes on each other’s consciousness or justice mechanisms. Either a serious indictment should be put in front of the public regarding Osman Kavala or he should be released,” the statement added.

The joint statement was penned by former Justice Minister Aysel Çelikkel, Hrant Dink Foundation President Rakel Dink, two former Boğaziçi University rectors Ayşe Soysal and Üstün Ergüder, two former presidents of the Istanbul Bar Turgut Kazan and Yücel Sayman, and former Undersecretary of Public Order and Security of the Ministry of the Interior Murat Özçelik.