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Osman Kavala: Germany summons Turkish ambassador to protest activist's life sentence

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
A journalist stands in front of a poster featuring jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala.
A journalist stands in front of a poster featuring jailed businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala.   -   Copyright  OZAN KOSE / AFP, FILE

Germany has summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin to protest against the conviction of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala.

Christofer Burger, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said Turkey’s envoy was summoned for talks on Friday morning.

Kavala was given a life sentence without parole on Monday after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the government amid mass protests in 2013. The civil rights activist has always denied any wrongdoing.

The court in Istanbul also sentenced seven other defendants to 18 years in prison each for “aiding” the attempt.

Western governments and rights groups have strongly criticised the ruling and several demonstrations have since been held in Germany.

Burger told reporters in Berlin that Germany had urged other European Union countries to make a similar diplomatic protest.

The bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also said that he "deeply regrets" the life sentence given to Kavala.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the Turkish court’s ruling “blatantly contradicts the constitutional standards and international obligations that Turkey commits itself to as a member of the Council of Europe and EU accession candidate".

“We expect Osman Kavala to be released immediately -- the European Court of Human Rights has bindingly obliged Turkey to do so,“ Baerbock said.

Ankara has failed to abide by a 2019 court ruling which has called for Kavala’s immediate release.

The country's stance has prompted the Council of Europe to launch infringement procedures against Turkey, which could lead to the suspension of its voting rights or membership in the organisation.

Kavala has already spent more than four years in jail near Istanbul after he was detained in October 2017.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the 64-year-old of being the “Turkish branch” of American billionaire philanthropist George Soros and threatened to expel Western envoys for meddling in Turkey’s internal affairs.

On Friday, the Turkish government said it had also summoned the German ambassador to Ankara in response to Berlin's protest.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has condemned Germany's "attempt to intervene" in "an ongoing case".

"No country, including Germany, has the right to interfere in Turkey's internal affairs," Bozdag added on Twitter.