Skip to main content
Newsroom Press release

Open Society Foundations Call for Osman Kavala’s Release on 1000th Day of His Detention

It has now been 1,000 days since Osman Kavala, a well-known businessman and human rights activist in Turkey, was detained by Turkish authorities.

“Osman’s jailing, on trumped-up charges, is a cynical effort to crush independent voices all across Turkey,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “The fact that Osman continues to be behind bars is a sad marker of the continuing decay of the rule of law in Turkey.”

Kavala, who was originally detained on October 18, 2017, spent 16 months in prison before the government even shared information with him about why they detained him.

“This is not about justice, it is about intimidation,” Gaspard said.

Even though Kavala has languished in prison for 1,000 days, the government has not presented evidence that he has committed a crime.

Indeed, a Turkish judge threw out the case against Kavala on March 9, 2020, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to hold him.

The judge’s action followed a December 10, 2019, ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ordering Kavala’s release. In its judgment, the European Court noted, “the absence of facts, information or evidence” against Kavala.

Kavala’s case is perhaps the best known of thousands of unjustified cases Turkish authorities have brought against human rights activists, journalists, and others who draw attention to rights violations in Turkey.

“The way the state has wielded its power in this case is ugly,” said Gaspard. “Osman’s unwavering commitment to the struggle for human rights is a testament to his courage, and to the power of the ideas the Turkish government hopes to, but can’t, crush.”

Subscribe to updates about Open Society’s work around the world