A Turkish court has approved an indictment accusing philanthropist Osman Kavala of helping organize an attempted coup in 2016, state media reported, months after he was acquitted on charges of financing nationwide protests in 2013.
In the new indictment seen by Reuters, Kavala is accused of collaborating with Henri Barkey, a prominent Turkey scholar in the United States. Barkey is accused of links to the network of U.S.-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup.
Kavala, Barkey, and Gulen have all denied any involvement.
Kavala, in jail for nearly three years, was acquitted in February along with eight others of charges related to the Gezi protests, which threatened the grip on power of then-premier, now President Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups have called for Kavala’s release and voiced concern that his indictment points to a politicization of Turkey’s justice system.
A court has ordered Kavala’s release in February, but on the same day, a new detention warrant was issued for him related to the failed coup.
State-run Anadolu news agency said an Istanbul court had accepted the indictment on Thursday, paving the way for a trial.
Kavala’s lawyers were not immediately available for comment.
The accusations have been leveled at Barkey since soon after the coup and he has dismissed them, saying in a New York Times article four years ago that he had become a target of “sensationalist conspiracy theories” in pro-government media.
He and Kavala are charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and government, and preventing parliament from doing its job. Conviction on any of the charges carries a life sentence without parole. A third charge is an espionage, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.
The indictment says Kavala and Barkey held two phone calls on Oct. 8, 2016. It says that many times between 2013 and 2016 signals on Barkey’s and Kavala’s phones came from the same area.
It also says Barkey left a bell featuring a map of Pennsylvania, where Gulen lives, at the reception of a hotel in Turkey where he organized a meeting at the time of the coup attempt.