A new arrest warrant was issued by an Istanbul court against Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala in connection with espionage-related to a failed 2016 coup.
The court on Monday ordered the new arrest warrant as part of an ongoing investigation into a failed coup attempt in 2016, Kavala’s lawyer told Reuters.
The court based its decision on the alleged contact between the philanthropist and Henri Barkey, an American academic and former U.S. Department of State employee, who was also accused by Turkey of spying for foreign governments.
Kavala was arrested for the second time last month after being acquitted in the 2013 Gezi Park protests case.
That arrest, immediately after his acquittal, relates to charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through the 2016 coup.
A day after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the acquittal of Kavala and eight others, the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) launched an investigation into the three judges who handed down the verdict in the Gezi trials.
At the time of his re-arrest, he accused Erdogan of intervening in the judicial process in a bid to prevent his release from prison.
Many criticized re-arrest decision on Kavala, saying the charges against him are fabricated and manifestly ill-founded.
“They [Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party – AKP – government] re-arrested Osman Kavala with a maneuver. The law is broken down. This is [Erdogan’s political] order regime. This is a humiliation of a country [Turkey] by a single man [Erdogan] in front of the whole world,” Veli Agbaba, the vice-chair of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said at the time.
The activist, who has been kept in the Silivri Prison, attended Monday’s hearing via an online video conference system called SEGBIS, denying all the charges.
Ilhan Koyuncu released a statement on osmankavala.org (Free Osman Kavala!) in reaction to the latest court ruling.
“The [Turkish] state should find itself a different occupation [other than Kavala-related issues]. I am ashamed on behalf of you [the state],” the lawyer said.
Deniz Tolga Aytore, Kavala’s other lawyer, said reportedly during the court hearing that the new arrest warrant was aimed at circumventing the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling.
“Utterly shameful! #OsmanKavala remanded in prison again on spying/espionage charges,” Milena Buyum, Turkey campaigner for Amnesty International, tweeted on Monday.
— Milena Buyum (@MilenaBuyum) March 9, 2020
Ahmet Sik, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a former journalist, said on Twitter that the new espionage-related charges against Kavala do not belong to a new investigation.
Kavala’s latest re-arrest was based on “new evidence” in the case in which the activist had been ex officio released on October 11, 2019, the HDP MP claimed.
Sik cited the ruling by the court which said: “additional investigation regarding Barkey shows findings that he has carried out activities as part of his intelligence assignments for foreign states.”
Kavala’ya yönelik suçlamalar yeni bir soruşturma ile ilgili değil. 13 günlük gözaltının ardından TCK 309 uyarınca “darbecilik” suçlaması yöneltilerek, 1 Kasım 2017’de tutuklanıp 11 Ekim 2019’da re’sen tahliye edildiği dosyada yeni delil bulunduğu gerekçesiyle yeniden tutuklandı.
— ahmet şık (@sahmetsahmet) March 9, 2020
Speaking to Deutsche Welle (DW) on February 21, Barkey denied the allegations of his involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt.
The professor said the reason for the allegations by the Turkish state is because it aimed at attacking the U.S. for the coup and it did it over himself as a former state official.
“Everything in Turkey is [a] fabrication. Everybody claims something [allegations] against anyone. I have been a professor for 30 years. How can I prove that I am not a CIA agent? What can a human do among so many lies? It is impossible to answer all those lies. Yet, they don’t believe whatever you tell. The media is not a media [in Turkey],” Barkey said.
Barkey was first accused of being involved in the failed by the pro-government daily Turkiye as he organized a conference in Istanbul’s Buyukada on the night of the coup.
Kavala is accused in the indictment of meeting with Barkey at a restaurant in Istanbul three days after the coup and of communicating with the professor in 93 hours of mobile phone calls.
Kavala’s lawyers claim that there was no call between the two. But rather, the 93-hours time was representing the signals received by the two’s mobile phones from the same cell tower.
“They [the Turkish judicial authorities] have been accusing me [of the coup bid]. However, they are writing my name wrongly in the case [file]. They even made a hash of it [writing his name properly]. They cannot be serious prosecutors,” Barkey argued.
The professor added that he had not even made a single private call with Kavala, claiming that the allegations are made up by the prosecutors to keep Kavala behind bars.
Barkey said it was Kavala’s misfortune to be at the same restaurant in Istanbul that night when they ran into each other.