Turkish government has held Osman Kavala in prison for more than three years without any credible accusation against him, indeed, even an indictment until a few months ago. He was found not guilty by the Turkish courts of his alleged crime of orchestrating the Gezi park protests during the summer 2013. After reviewing his case, European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that his continued detention was a violation of human rights. Around the world, newspaper editorial boards, human rights organizations, and grassroots activists have cried out for Kavala’s immediate release. Instead of releasing him, the Turkish courts instead prepared a second indictment. `
The same courts that found Osman Kavala not guilty of attempting to overthrow the government through the Gezi park protests now want to try him on espionage charges. After the Turkish courts ruled for his release, and the ECHR ruled that his rights were violated, Istanbul Chief Prosecutor prepared an indictment accusing him of working for foreign countries and organizations against the State of Turkey. The timing of the indictment was not a coincidence. Osman Kavala used his constitutional right and applied, technically appealed, to Turkish Constitution Court (Turkey’s supreme court), and the court decided to hear the Osman Kavala case in the first week of October. However, Istanbul’s Chief Prosecutor presented the indictment to the Istanbul 36th Criminal Court on the same day as the court’s hearing. Therefore, the Constitutional Court had to cancel the plan to hear the case. Kavala’s trial date for these new charges, which have a 20 year sentence attached, is December 18.
As international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have continuously pointed out, there is not a single piece of evidence to support those allegations. There are only extremely dubious accusations in the indictment, like that Osman Kavala traveled to different places to attend secret meetings. Indictment does not mention where, with who, and when these meetings allegedly took place. The same inducement introduces other baseless and nonsensical claims. For example, it alleges that a documentary on the lives of schoolgirls in Eastern Anatolia that was found in Osman Kavala’s phone is evidence that he wanted to “establish a perception that Turkish Republic kills citizens with Kurdish origin.”
Turkish judicial system is facing probably one of the most important cases in their almost a hundred-year-long history. If it wants to maintain even a semblance of being just and non-political, it must find Osman Kavala not guilty and release him immediately.