Turkish court rules to release Osman Kavala on coup charges

An Istanbul court on Friday has ruled for the release of Turkish philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala over charges of attempting to overthrow Turkey’s constitutional order, pro-government daily Yeni Şafak reported. Kavala will remain in prison as charges of espionage against him still stand.

The court’s decision for Kavala’s release in the case against him over his alleged involvement in the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016 was based on time the philanthropist already spent in pre-trial detention, which by Turkish law cannot exceed two years.

Osman Kavala was arrested on Nov. 1, 2017 over charges of having financed and organised the Gezi Park protests of 2013, when some four million people took to the streets to protest the government. Kavala was acquitted of these charges on February 18 this year, but was re-arrested on coup charges before he could be released.

The third charge of espionage had come as the deadline for Kavala’s release, as stipulated by law, neared. In this case, Kavala was accused of espionage over his alleged connection to former U.S. State Department employee Henri Barkey, who Turkey also accuses of involvement in the July 15 coup attempt.

Evidence of the two men’s connection as cited in the investigation was limited to them running into each other in an Istanbul restaurant on July 18.

"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, who thinks he will remain in prison indefinitely, said on Wednesday.