BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 11: Member of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (IPRI) delegation to Turkey Osman Kavala is seen during a joint press conference with Chair of the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left at the European Parliament Gabriele Zimmer, Chair of IPRI Judge Essa Moosa, French politician Francis Wurtz and Chair of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) Kariane Westrheim after 11th International Conference on the European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds at European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on December 11, 2014. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Sir, We write to draw attention to the wholly unjustified detention of Osman Kavala, one of Turkey’s most prominent citizens and a committed European. Mr Kavala has been charged with almost single-handedly destroying Turkey’s constitutional order.

Mr Kavala is well known across European academia and civil society. For decades, he has used arts, culture and dialogue to facilitate exchanges throughout Turkey, its neighbourhood, and across Europe. He is modest, gracious, and decent to a fault. He is the favoured partner of many major European institutions. When the Council of Europe needed a partner in Turkey, they sought Mr Kavala. Turkey, is of course a founding member of the Council of Europe. He was also one of the first to warn against covert Gulenists networks, who were responsible for last year’s coup attempt.

After 14 days in police custody, a court in Istanbul decided, on November 1, to charge Mr Kavala with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and for having ties to terrorist organisations. For a man who has spent his life advancing democracy and dialogue, and who gave an early warning against the dangers of Gulenist influence, these charges are beyond ridiculous.

Turkey has endured a serious trauma in the July 2016 attempted coup, and Europe should have done more to show solidarity with the Turkish people. European states and institutions should assist Turkey in its efforts to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the failed coup attempt, but only if the Turkish judiciary drops such farcical and grotesque prosecutions as that of Mr Kavala. As friends of the Turkish people, we ask the Turkish authorities to release Mr Kavala.

Carl Bildt

Timothy Garton Ash

Ivan Krastev

Kalypso Nicolaidis

Claus Offe

Chris Patten

Javier Solana

Nathalie Tocci

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