U.S. gravely concerned over possible life sentences for Kavala, 15 others

The United States is gravely concerned by reports that prosecutors in Turkey moved to indict 16 civil society, media, and business leaders, including philanthropist Osman Kavala, Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department said in a statement.

Last week, Turkish prosecutors asked life sentences for 16 people, citing the 2013 Gezi Park protests as evidence that the individuals plotted to overthrow the government. The indictment attracted widespread condemnation from the European Union, Western governments and the leading human rights organisations.

"Exercising the right to freedom of expression should not result in an aggravated life sentence. The ability to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association is fundamental to any healthy democracy.  We urge Turkey to respect these freedoms and to release all those held arbitrarily," the U.S. State Department's release said.

Kavala, 62, has been jailed for nearly 500 days without indictment in Silivri prison.

The activist was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace in January over his work with minority communities in Turkey.

The Foggy Bottom's reaction to the indictment came on Saturday, several days later than the E.U.'s and others.