My unlawful arrest has turned illegal, says Turkish businessman Kavala

Jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala said Turkish government has been manoeuvring to keep him under arrest, while violating national and European laws, news site Duvar reported.

Kavala was arrested for the third time on March 9 on new charges of espionage, following his acquittal from the Gezi trial where he faced life in prison for attempting to violently overthrow the government and the subsequent re-arrest on charges of involvement with the July 206 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Kavala’s second arrest was related to an investigation launched in 2017, which had not progressed to an indictment since then. Barring the filing and acceptance by court of an indictment, Kavala would need to be released by March 10 due to a limitation set by Turkey’s own judicial reform package that pre-trial detention without an indictment could not exceed two years.

“They chose this strenuous method to avoid looking like they were not complying with the ECHR ruling,” Kavala told main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Utku Çakırözer who visited him in prison.

A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on December 10 last year demanded Kavala’s immediate release, and to continue his arrest, Turkey would need a criminal case other than the Gezi and July 15 cases, which the ruling cited as in violation of his rights.

“That is why they believe they can circumvent the ECHR obstacle by inventing this espionage charge,” Kavala said.

“I am acquitted, and there is another urgent case file so I won’t be released from prison. That case is dismissed, so then a third one!” Kavala told Çakırözer. “I am ashamed for them at this point.”

Kavala was taken from his prison cell on February 18 and taken to testify in front of a judge, and re-arrested hours later.

“I didn’t face a prosecutor for once throughout my three arrests in these two and a half years,” Kavala said. “This is against the law, the judicial reform, and the spirit of the ECHR accord. My arrest was unlawful to this day, now it is also illegal.”

“Osman Kavala was arrested three times and released once within the span of two years and four months. He is still in prison,” Utku Çakırözer told Duvar after the interview. “Kavala’s arrest is a litmus test for the loss of judicial independence.”

The government is attempting to settle a score through Kavala, Çakırözer said.