Turkish businessman Kavala says he is likely to remain jailed indefinitely

Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been jailed since 2016 after successive court rulings overrode demands for his release, believes he is destined to remain behind bars for the foreseeable future since the Turkish government is determined to keep him in jail.

A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant against Kavala for espionage this month after he was re-arrested in February following his acquittal in a separate trial.

"The sudden decision for my re-arrest following my acquittal was not sufficient for me to remain behind bars for a long period of time… there was a need for a new arrest warrant to keep me jailed for a long period. That is the purpose that the [latest] espionage charges serve," Kavala told news site T24.

The 62-year-old businessman had been cleared on Feb. 18 of charges related to the nationwide Gezi protests in 2013, but was re-arrested the following day and charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Dec. 10, 2019 that Turkey had violated Kavala’s rights, calling for his immediate release, but a Turkish court ordered for Kavala to be kept in jail.

Kavala denies all the charges against him and accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of intervening to prevent his release from prison last month.

Erdoğan has gone on record saying Kavala had funded terrorists during the country’s 2013 Gezi protests and that he is backed by Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist George Soros.

Erdoğan could be "unwilling to abandon his opinion of me," Kavala said, pointing to publications in media outlets that targeted him before his first detention. 

"I think these publications aimed to give a message to certain circles that I was engaged in provocation against the government and should be stopped," Kavala said,  "in other words, that my arrest would be legal even if there were no legal justifications."

"We are speaking here of a different manifestation of German law professor Günther Jakobs’s concept of enemy criminal law," Kavala said, referring to criminal law focusing on the perpetrator rather than infringemnents.

While human rights organisations have called for his release, Kavala said, many civil society organisations have failed to follow his case closely. 

The businessman said he would continue his struggle and apply to every legal authority in the process.

"We will continue to explain the extent of threat the practice of unjustified arrest creates for a state of law,” Kavala told T24.