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patron Osman Kavala sentenced to life imprisonment

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Turkish patron Osman Kavala was sentenced on Monday (April 25) in Istanbul, Turkey, to life in prison without the possibility of remission. Accused of having tried to overthrow the government, Osman Kavala, who has always denied the charges against him, had been detained for four and a half years in the high security prison of Silivri, near Istanbul. Seven co-accused, who appeared with him, were sentenced to eighteen years’ imprisonment for having given him their support.

→ ANALYSIS. Osman Kavala sentenced to life in Turkey: “Erdogan makes this story a personal case”

nicknamed the “red billionaire” by his critics, Osman Kavala, 64, was relatively unknown to the general public when he was arrested at Istanbul airport in October 2017, returning from a trip to the southeast of the country.

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→ PORTRAIT. Who is Osman Kavala, President Erdogan’s pet peeve?

Acquitted then returned to prison

Accused of “attempt to overthrow the government” for supporting protests known as the Gezi Movement in 2013, he was acquitted in February 2020.

Short-lived joy: the publisher, born in Paris, had been arrested a few hours later before even being able to return home, then returned to prison, accused this time of having sought to “overthrow the government” during the failed putsch of July 2016, as well as espionage.

symbol of repression

His February 2020 acquittal was then invalidated by Turkish justice. Since then, the regular renewal of his detention, despite the absence of a trial, has made him the symbol of the regime’s repression against its opponents.

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→ EXPLANATION. Turkish president hits out at philanthropist Osman Kavala

The Kavala affair triggered a diplomatic crisis in the fall of 2021 between Ankara and a dozen Western ambassadors, including that of the United States. They had been threatened with expulsion by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for demanding the release of Osman Kavala. Representatives of the European and American diplomatic corps, however, continued to attend each of the hearings.

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