A Turkish prosecutor on Wednesday sought life in prison for 16 suspects including philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Kavala, who has been in custody for more than a year, is accused of links to 2013 anti-government protests and the failed 2016 coup.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has openly accused Kavala of “financing the terrorists” during the anti-government protests that threw up one of the biggest challenge to his rule. Erdogan was then prime minister.
A respected figure in intellectual circles in Turkey and abroad, Kavala was remanded in pre-trial custody on November 1, 2017.
He is chairman of the Anadolu Kultur (Anatolian Culture) foundation, which aims to overcome differences within Turkish society through culture and arts and has sought to reach out to neighboring Armenia.
Kavala worked closely with foreign missions on civil society projects and his detention has alarmed Turkey’s Western allies as well raised concerns of a clampdown on freedom of expression under Erdogan.
The Turkish leader has described Kavala as the “representative in Turkey” of Hungary-born American billionaire George Soros and accused him of “using his means to support those trying to tear up this country.”
In November last year, Soros’s Open Society Foundation said it would cease activities in Turkey after Erdogan’s accusations.