Turkey on Thursday rejected a call by the United States, U.S., for the release from prison of prominent philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, saying it was “against the principle of rule of law.”
The U.S. “must respect” legal proceedings against Kavala “by independent courts,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, adding: “No state or person can issue orders to Turkish courts.”
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday urged Ankara to “immediately release” Kavala in line with a European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, decision.
The U.S. said “specious” charges against Kavala and his prolonged detention “undermine respect for the rule of law and democracy”.
In December 2019, the ECHR told Turkey to free Kavala, ruling that he had been detained in order to silence him.
Turkish courts declined to follow suit, even though ECHR rulings are technically binding on Turkey, a member state of the Council of Europe.
A Turkish court last week rejected an appeal for Kavala’s release, after more than three years of imprisonment.
He is set to stand trial on May 21 on alleged charges of attempting to overthrow the government and espionage.
The charges are linked to Kavala’s alleged role in a failed 2016 coup, as well as the 2013 anti-government Gezi protests.
Kavala denies all charges.
Standing on trial along with Kavala is also U.S.-based academic Henri Barkey, for alleged links to coup plotters.
The U.S. State Department called the charges against Barkey “baseless,” demanding a “transparent and rapid” resolution of his case.