Press release

Turkey: Osman Kavala Should Be Released Immediately

Turkish authorities should release civic leader Osman Kavala and implement recommendations in the court judgement.


In response to the European Court of Human Rights judgment against Turkey in the case of jailed civic leader Osman Kavala, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“As the court’s findings clearly show, Turkish authorities failed to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that Osman Kavala had committed an offense, indicating that his detention and criminal proceedings were politically motivated,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “In addition to other violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, the judgment found that the Turkish government violated Article 18 in Kavala’s case. This is the second time in one year that the court has rebuked Ankara for politically motivated detentions. The Turkish authorities should implement the recommendations outlined in the judgment and immediately release Kavala.”


Osman Kavala, a Turkish philanthropist and civic leader, was arrested in October 2017. In a criminal indictment, he and 15 other defendants—including journalists, artists, scholars, and activists—were accused of masterminding the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Kavala has been held in detention without conviction for over two years as part of a broader crackdown on the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression.

The ruling in Kavala v. Turkey was informed by an amicus brief from the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner. The court found that the Turkish government had violated Articles 5(1), 5(3), 5(4), and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey has been a party since 1954. The judgment on Article 18, which governs undue restrictions of fundamental freedoms, marks the second such ruling against Turkey in the space of one year. The previous case, Demirtaş v. Turkey, concerned the politically motivated prosecution of Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtaş.

Turkey is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019.