Police in Istanbul detained 13 academics, businesspeople and journalists as part of an investigation launched into an association, Anadolu Kultur, that was headed by Osman Kavala, the prominent businessperson and civil society supporter, who has been in jail for more than one year.
Kavala is accused of seeking to overthrow the government. No indictment has been issued against him.
State-run Anadolu Agency said professors Betul Tanbay and Turgut Tarhanli of Istanbul’s Bogazici and Bilgi universities and journalist Cigdem Mater were among those detained in simultaneous police operations in the city.
The agency said Istanbul prosecutors had in total sought the arrest of 20 suspects and police had carried out simultaneous raids at various addresses.
Among the detainees were the staff of Kavala’s Anadolu Kultur organization, which is involved in promoting culture and rights, including board members Yigit Ekmekci and Hakan Altinay. It was not immediately clear what they were accused of.
In a statement marking one year since he was remanded in custody, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch renewed calls at the end of October for Kavala’s immediate and unconditional release.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Kavala ‘Turkey’s Soros,’ a reference to American billionaire George Soros, whose Open Society Foundations have funded education, health, justice and media projects around the world. Pro-government media in Turkey accuse Kavala of engaging in anti-government conspiracies.
Council of Europe: An alarming development
The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland said: “I am very concerned by the detention of a group of academics including Hakan Altinay and will raise this alarming development with the Turkish government as a matter of urgency.”