A Turkish court has said philanthropist Osman Kavala must stay in prison, lengthening his detention of more than four years without conviction after a trial which has fuelled tensions in Ankara’s relations with Western allies.
Earlier this month, the Council of Europe said its committee referred Kavala’s case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine whether Turkey has failed to meet its obligation to implement the court’s previous judgement more than two years ago that he should be released immediately.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan subsequently said when asked about the decision that Turkey will not respect the Council of Europe if it does not respect Turkish courts.
On Monday, the Turkish court ruled to keep Kavala, one of Turkey’s highest-profile detainees, in custody and set the next hearing for March 21.
Kavala was detained in October 2017. He was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013.
Hours later, another court ordered his arrest based on a charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order related to a 2016 coup attempt.
Kavala has been on trial with 51 others in a combination of three separate cases over the 2013 protests and the 2016 coup attempt.
That court later ruled to release him on that charge but ordered his detention on an espionage charge in the same case, a move critics said was aimed at circumventing the ECHR ruling.
In late 2019, the ECHR called for Kavala’s release over a lack of reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence, ruling that his detention served to silence him.
Last October, Erdogan threatened to expel the ambassadors of 10 countries, including the United States, Germany and France, after they reiterated the ECHR ruling seeking Kavala’s release.