Turkey’s indictment against Barkey, Kavala ‘will go down in annals of jurisprudence’

Ahval’s Yavuz Baydar spoke with Henri Barkey, an Istanbul-born Lehigh University scholar, senior analyst with Council of Foreign Relations and former U.S. State Department employee who was accused of having plotted the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016 in Turkey.

Barkey currently faces three counts of life in prison plus 20 years, along with Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala who has been in custody for more than 1,000 days, for attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and espionage. The first hearing of the most recent case Barkey is accused in will begin just before Christmas.

  • “The 64-page indictment will go into the annals of jurisprudence worldwide as probably the most ridiculous one,” Barkey told Baydar. “Everything they say is conjecture, they have no proof for any of the accusations.”
  • The indictment is “poorly written, but it serves its purpose.”
  • Part of the accusations stem from Barkey’s July 2016 visit to Istanbul where he ran into Kavala at a restaurant. “They have accusations that are even more absurd than that,” Barkey said.
  • The Turkish prosecutors “could not ascertain that I was married to my wife, but they know I spy for the CIA.” Barkey asked: “Once you are labeled CIA, that becomes part of the truth. How do I prove otherwise?”
  • Barkey was in Istanbul’s Büyükada on the night of the failed coup attempt for a meeting, organized by the Wilson Center together with a Turkish think tank, on Middle Eastern reactions to the Iran nuclear deal.
  • “The Turkish government had one goal: To connect the United States to the coup attempt.” The reason Kavala got caught up involved was that the Turkish government “was afraid that Osman might be released, so they had to come up with another excuse.”
  • There are 50,000 political prisoners in Turkey. What is Barkey going to do?
  • “What I would like to happen is for the indictment to be translated,” Barkey said. “See, most people who work on Turkey -the think-tankers, the professors- don’t speak Turkish and have no comprehension of what the indictment entails. If it’s translated, people are really going to realize how outrageous the Turkish justice system is.”
  • There is no rule of law in Turkey anymore, the scholar thinks.
  • “What is it that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has against Osman, to keep him in jail for as long as they have?” Barkey asked.
  • A Turkish novelist was accused of having sent subliminal messages before the coup attempt. “Please tell me: In what court of law anywhere in the world you could prove that?”
  • No improvement will come “until the Turkish government pays a price,” Barkey said, and elaborated: “Now Turkey is always cited among examples of modern-day authoritarianism. Turkish leaders may not believe they will pay a price for this, but they will.”