Germany, France demand immediate release of activist Osman Kavala ahead Gezi retrial

German and French government officials have called upon Turkey to release prominent human rights activist Osman Kavala immediately, who had been behind bars since October 2017 on what many people believe to be politically motivated accusations.

Bärbel Kofler, the federal government’s commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid at the Federal Foreign Office, and French Ambassador for Human Rights Delphine Borione issued a joint statement on Wednesday regarding the retrial of Kavala and his co-defendants, which is set to begin on May 21.

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“Osman Kavala has been behind bars for almost 1300 days, even though the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) demanded his release a year and a half ago. Turkey’s treatment of Osman Kavala and the non-implementation of the ECtHR judgment is not worthy of a state governed by the rule of law or with longstanding membership of the Council of Europe,” the statement said.

The representatives called on Turkey to “urgently respect its international obligations and to release Osman Kavala without further delay.”

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On December 10, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Kavala’s prolonged pre-trial detention, as director of the Turkish cultural foundation Anadolu Kültür, violated the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered his immediate release.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has repeatedly urged Turkey to carry out the Kavala judgment.

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A local court cleared him of allegations of trying to overthrow the government by participating in the nationwide Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013. On the same day, he was re-arrested on charges linked to a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, which his lawyers characterized as a ploy to get around the ECtHR decision.

Kavala is currently facing charges of “attempting to undermine the constitutional order” and “obtaining sensitive state information for political or military spying.”

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An appeals court overturned his acquittal in January 2021 and a judge combined the two cases against Kavala into one in early February.

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