Nov 30 2018

Erdoğan persists with crackdown, jarring with Khashoggi performance

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who won praise internationally for his pursuit of the murderers of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is persisting with a crackdown against his political opponents, the Financial Times said.

Erdoğan is continuing his campaign against civil society activists such as Osman Kavala, who remains in jail one year after his arrest with no indictment, and scores of journalists, the FT’s Laura Pitel said.

“It seems quite unbelievable that he {Kavala} has been deprived of his freedom for so long,” said his wife, Ayse Bugra Kavala.

Pitel said Kavala thought he’d dropped his ID card when police boarded a plane he was traveling on and summoned him to the front. Instead, he was taken to a police station, then to jail.

Earlier this month, police detained 13 academics and activists accused of links to Kavala, who is also a well-known philanthropist and businessman. Twelve were released but Yigit Aksakoglu, a civil society activist, remains behind bars.

“The case is a scandal,” said Sevan Nisanyan, an author and friend of Kavala since high school. “It’s one of the prime examples of the disastrous path that Turkey has taken in recent years.”

The European Union has stopped opening new chapters of its membership talks with Turkey, citing the deterioration in the country’s democracy under Erdoğan, who enhanced his executive powers in a June election following a referendum last year marred by allegations of vote-rigging.

In response, Erdoğan has accused Kavala of financing terrorists who he says perpetrated the Gezi Park demonstrations against his government in 2013. He also claims Kavala is backed by “that Hungarian jew” George Soros, Pitel reported.