Erdogan critic's life sentence upheld by Turkish appeals court

Osman Kavala was convicted of trying to topple the government by financing street protests

Activist Osman Kavala is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. AFP
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A Turkish appeals court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a leading critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Osman Kavala, an activist and philanthropist born in Paris, was in April sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole after being convicted of trying to topple the government by financing street protests in 2013.

His conviction increased tensions between Ankara and the West.

Seven others were jailed for 18 years for aiding the attempt to overthrow the government of Mr Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, during the Gezi Park rallies in Istanbul.

The appeals court ruled that the April verdict "complied with the law", the Anadolu state news agency reported.

The case can still be appealed in Turkey's Supreme Court.

Kavala was arrested in October 2017 and the case has affected Nato member Turkey's ties with its main western allies.

He played a major role in developing Turkish civil society before he was detained.

A court acquitted and released Kavala in February 2020, but he was arrested again before he returned home on charges of being involved in a failed 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdogan.

Kavala faced both sets of charges and was convicted of attempting to overthrow the government.

US 'deeply troubled' by ruling

Germany demanded his immediate release and the US said it was "deeply troubled" by the ruling of the appeals court.

"His unjust conviction is inconsistent with respect for human rights and the rule of law. We again call on Turkey to release Osman Kavala," said Vedant Patel, a spokesman with the US State Department.

"The people of Turkey deserve to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms without fear of retribution."

Turkey has dismissed a European Court of Human Rights ruling that demanded Kavala's release.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 6:49 AM