Academics from the universities of Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Columbia have drawn attention to the situation of rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala, who has been behind bars for 10 months.
Academics had their photographs taken while they were holding placards which read, "10 months in detention! With no trial or even an indictment!!! Is this justice??? We stand with Osman Kavala."
The academics who have expressed support for Kavala are as follows:
Economist Daron Acemoğlu from the MIT
Economist Dani Rodrik and Ottoman historian Cemal Kafadar from Harvard University
Political scientists Seyla Benhabip and Ayşen Candaş from Yale University
Historian Elazar Balkan from Columbia University
Ezgi Başaran and thinker Kalypso Nicolaidis from Oxford University
Timothy Garton Ash from Stanford University
Anadolu Kültür Executive Board Chair, human rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala was taken into custody in the evening hours on October 18 at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from a meeting of a project planned to be realized in cooperation with Goethe Institute in Antep.
He was targeted by some pro-government newspapers following his detention.
Speaking at the weekly group meeting of his party, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Kavala as the "Soros of Turkey", mentioning his name and said:
"Some try to deflect the truth by means of praises attributed to him such as 'He was a good citizen, a media member, an NGO representative'. The identity of this figure called 'Soros of Turkey' has been uncovered. That was his name that came up in Consulate General [investigation]. All connections have surfaced. And there is the same person behind the incidents in Taksim. You see those people again behind funds transfer to certain places. Who are you trying to fool?"
His detention also sparked criticism on international level.
US thinker and professor in linguistics, Noam Chomsky, United States Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert and European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri denounced Kavala's detention and demanded that he be released immediately.
On October 31, a group of 35 academics, writers and researchers coming together under the guidance of the European Network on Political Group Analysis Jean-François Bayart, addressed an open letter to President Erdoğan for Kavala's release.
About Osman Kavala
Kavala was born in Paris in 1957. He graduated from Department of Economy at Manchester University.
He has been working as executive at Kavala Group since 1982.
He participated in the foundation of Turkey's one of the most prominent publishing houses, İletişim Publications, with Murat Belge.
He served as member of administrative boards of business institutions and NGOs such as Turkey-Poland Business Council, Turkey-Greece Business Council, and Center for Democracy in Southeast Europe.
Kavala is a member of Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) Administrative Board, Open Society Institute Consulting Board, and supporter of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, History Foundation and Diyarbakır Culture House.
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