New York, April 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Open Society Foundations are appalled by today’s Turkish court decision to sentence Osman Kavala—the business leader and philanthropist—to life in prison, even though no credible evidence was ever presented to substantiate the baseless charges against him.
“Today a Turkish judge ruled against Osman Kavala even though there is not a shred of legitimate evidence against him,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, the president of the Open Society Foundations. “This bogus trial has utterly failed to meet the most basic standards for fairness and procedural justice.”
The court in Istanbul also sentenced seven other defendants to 18 years in prison each. The cases against these defendants were also without any merit.
Osman Kavala was first arrested and detained in October 2017. The government has held him, without conviction prior to today, for more than four years.
During that time, Turkish prosecutors have bent over backwards to try to keep Kavala in prison, even having him re-arrested in February 2020, after a previous trial ended with him being briefly released.
“This is not about justice,” added Malloch-Brown. “It is about trying to intimidate and silence anyone who might speak up in defense of human rights in Turkey, including all independent civil society groups.”
In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Kavala’s detention was unjustified, and that the case against him was designed to silence him and to dissuade other human rights defenders from speaking out.
Turkey has so far defied the ECHR ruling.
Kavala is an established businessman and philanthropist, known for his support of human rights, the arts, and culture in Turkey. He also served as a board member with Open Society’s foundation in Turkey. (Open Society Turkey shut its doors in 2018 due to harassment from the Turkish government.)
Kavala is expected to appeal the court ruling.
“It is long past time to end this legal farce,” added Malloch-Brown. “Osman Kavala should be released and his name cleared immediately.”
Office of Communications Open Society Foundations (212) 548-0378 media@opensocietyfoundations.