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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.
Timothy Garton Ash