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Turkey summons ambassadors of 10 western countries over activist's case

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Parisian-born Turkish businessperson Osman Kavala speaking during an event in Istanbul, Turkey in this undated handout photograph released on October 15, 2021. (Via AFP)

Turkey's Foreign Ministry has summoned the ambassadors of 10 western countries, including the United States and France, to protest against their "irresponsible" statement regarding the case of Osman Kavala, a civil society leader.

In a statement on Monday, the embassies of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US called for a "just and speedy resolution” to the case of the Parisian-born Turkish businessman, Kavala, who has been in prison since late 2017 without a conviction.

Kavala, 64, faces a series of charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a coup attempt in 2016.

"The continuing delays in (Kavala's) trial … cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system," the embassies said in the statement.

In late 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for the immediate release of Kavala over a lack of reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence.

"Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release," the embassies said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the ambassadors and charge d'affaires were told that the "unacceptable" statement "overstepped boundaries" and "attempted to politicize the legal process and pressure the judiciary".

"It was emphasized that Turkey is a democratic state of law that is respectful towards human rights and they were reminded that the Turkish judiciary would not be affected by such an irresponsible statement," the ministry said.

In their statement, the embassies also urged Ankara to follow the rulings of the Council of Europe, a human rights body it joined in 1950.

The Council of Europe has warned that it will launch infringement proceedings against Turkey if Kavala is not released before the human rights body's next meeting on November 30-December 2.

The next court hearing of Kavala, who has denied all the accusations, is scheduled for November 26.

Responding to the embassies' statement, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday "It is not acceptable for ambassadors to make a recommendation or suggestion to the judiciary for an ongoing case."

"Your recommendation and suggestion throws a shadow over your understanding of law and democracy," Soylu tweeted.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul also decried the statement, saying "no ambassador had the right to make a recommendation or suggestion to our courts".

"It is this ignorance of limits and boundaries that throws a shadow over the rule of law," Gul said on Twitter late Monday.

 


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