Turkey summons 10 ambassadors over 'irresponsible' call to release philanthropist

Turkey summons 10 ambassadors over 'irresponsible' call to release philanthropist

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of 10 countries after they called for the release of Turkish philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala

A statement shared by some of the embassies demanded an end to Kavala's case which they say "cast a shadow over respect for democracy," according to Reuters.

"The continuing delays in [Kavala's] trial, including by merging different cases and creating new ones after a previous acquittal, cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system," the statement from the embassies said.

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On Tuesday, the foreign ministry told ambassadors the statement was "unacceptable," Reuters reported. 

"It was emphasized that Turkey is a democratic state of law that is respectful towards human rights and they were reminded that the Turkish judiciary would not be affected by such an irresponsible statement," the ministry said, per Reuters.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for Kavala's immediate release in late 2019. The court argued there was not sufficient evidence that he had committed a crime and claimed his time in jail was merely to silence him, Reuters noted. 

"Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release," the embassies also said in their statement.

Reuters reported that the embassies involved in the statement included the U.S., Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand. 

Despite not being convicted, Kavala has been in prison since 2017. Though he was acquitted last year of charges related to nationwide protests in 2013, that decision was reversed this year. It was also combined with charges in another case involving a 2016 coup attempt. 

Kavala is one of a number of prominent figures amid thousands of people who were arrested by the Turkish government after a failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Earlier this year, the U.S. called for Kavala's release and argued that he faced baseless charges.

“We call on Turkey to resolve his case in a just, transparent, and rapid manner,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement at the time.

Kavala has denied all charges and his next hearing will take place on Nov. 26.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.