Istanbul prosecutor demands triple life sentences for Osman Kavala, Henri Barkey

A new indictment entered into Turkey’s National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP) on Thursday shows Istanbul’s chief public prosecutor demanding three counts of life in prison for philanthropist Osman Kavala and scholar Henri Barkey.

The indictment includes allegations that Kavala had previously been acquitted from in the Gezi Trials, where he stood accused of having funded and organized the massive anti-government protests that drew some four million Turkish citizens to the streets in 2013.

Kavala shares the current accusations with scholar and former U.S. State Department employee Barkey for military and political espionage as well as attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in Turkey.

The philanthropist was acquitted of similar charges on Feb. 18, but was arrested again over espionage charges before he could be released from prison. As of Thursday, he has spent 1,072 days in prison since his arrest on Nov. 1, 2017.

The indictment, without concrete evidence, says Kavala and Barkey were involved with the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which Turkey blames on the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

“Although sufficient information and evidence could not be collected on suspect Henri Jak Barkey,” the indictment said, “as can be seen in later chapters of this indictment, suspect Barkey’s actions during the Gezi uprising were outstanding beyond normal.”

According to the indictment, the “Gezi uprising” was “stopped by measures taken by the legal, legitimate government,” and in the time between 2013 and the 2016 coup attempt, Kavala and Barkey were “in harmony with each other towards the same goal.”

Kavala’s “activities made up of actions conducted under a so-called discourse to develop democratic freedoms and expanding them to the grassroots in society” were truly aimed at “rendering the democratic legitimate government dysfunctional, fan the flames of discrimination in society, and to weaken the unity and togetherness of our citizen with the state and the nation against the benefit of our country, and to the advantage of foreign states and intelligence agencies,” the indictment said.

Among evidence the indictment lists is a six minute video, a documentary about the Kurdish women fighters in northeast Syria (called The West - Rojava in Kurdish) called The Lights of Rojava - Women’s Revolution, which it says encourages Kurdish women to take up arms for their freedom.

Kavala is accused of “creating points of resistance among several factions in society regarding extremely innocent matters such as women’s rights, child abuse, violence against women, assimilation of minorities, freedom of expression, and environmentalism, together with (Hungarian-American philanthropist George) Soros.”

The indictment also lists travels by Barkey and Kavala that are unrelated to both the accusations and each other. Among Kavala’s meetings included in the indictment are visits with exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar.

Kavala and Barkey, as co-conspirators, committed crimes of attempting to “remove the order foreseen in the Republic of Turkey’s Constitution or to install another order to replace it or to de facto prevent the implementation of this system, keep the Grand National Assembly of Turkey from conducting its duties completely or partially, and remove the Government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it from carrying out its duties,” the indictment said it determined.

“Such punishment was not demanded for actual putschists who did implement coups with guns in their hands!” former opposition deputy Barış Yarkadaş wrote in a tweet. “And the allegation is that (Kavala’s) partner-in-crime is Henri Barkey! But Kavala has repeatedly stated that they (only) ran into each other in a restaurant and greeted each other.”

“The only explanation I can find for the continued, obsessive persecution of Osman Kavala (and of Henri Barkey) is obsessive, evidence-free paranoia,” historian at St. Lawrence University Howard Eissenstat said in a tweet, and called for public support for Barkey.

The indictment can be found here in full, in Turkish.