Europe's human rights court calls for release of Turkish businessman
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The European Court of Human Rights called on Tuesday for the immediate release of Turkish businessman and activist Osman Kavala, saying there was a lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense.
Kavala has been in jail for more than two years while on trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, based on accusations that he organized and funded nationwide protests in 2013 against then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
Kavala, who faces life in jail if convicted, denies the allegations.
The indictment cited tapped phone calls in which Kavala discussed sending pastries, milk, juice and gas masks to protesters as evidence that he financed the protests.
“In the absence of facts, information or evidence showing that Mr. Kavala had been involved in criminal activity, he could not reasonably be suspected of having attempted to overthrow the Government by force or violence,” the court said, calling on authorities to secure his release.
It also said in the ruling that it supported Kavala’s assertion that his detention was aimed at silencing him, adding that it was “likely to have a dissuasive effect on the work of human rights defenders”.
ECHR rulings are legally binding but Turkey has frequently not implemented them. Turkey’s Justice Ministry declined to comment on Tuesday’s ruling.
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