Turkish philanthropist Kavala appears to have become an obsession for Erdoğan - analysis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appears to have developed an obsession towards philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was re-arrested this week on coup charges after being acquitted by a court the same day on charges of overthrowing the government,  veteran journalist Murat Yetkin said in his blog.

Erdoğan slammed on Wednesday the court which acquitted Kavala after 840 days behind bars in the last hearing of what is known as the Gezi trial.

Kavala was accused of organising and financing the 2013 Gezi protests, the biggest anti-government demonstrations that the country has witnessed since Erdoğan came to power in 2003. 

But hours after the court verdict, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutors’ Office demanded Kavala be detained in connection to an investigation into a failed coup attempt in 2016. 

Coup charges against Kavala are based solely on his meetings and phone calls with U.S. academic Henri Barkey, a well-known expert on Turkish-U.S. relations. 

“I am sure not only the judge who re-arrested Kavala, but Erdoğan himself also knows that meeting with Barkey, or running into him as Kavala said in his statement (at court) does not prove taking any role in the coup attempt,” Yetkin said. 

Turkey issued an arrest for Barkey in 2017 on charges of being one of the organisers of the failed putsch. The academic, who was attending a two-day workshop on the international relations of Iran at Istanbul’s Büyükada island at the time of the coup, is accused of working for the CIA to bring down the Turkish government.

“But there must be a reason why Erdoğan wants to keep Kavala in prison despite accusations that Kavala has been kept as hostage,” Yetkin said. 

“But it appears that the situation of Kavala has reached to a level go obsession for Erdoğan,” he said. “Maybe in the eyes of Erdoğan Kavala is a symbol that represents everything he is against.”

The president might also be trying to prevent the emergence of a strong civil society independent of his control, Yetkin said. 

“But this situation is now not only harming Kavala and the civil society movement, but the remaining credibility of the Turkish judiciary and Turkey,” he said.