Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala has called for dialogue to ease the diplomatic crisis triggered by his imprisonment.
“The EU should continue the dialogue with Turkey, repeatedly addressing human rights and the rule of law,” Kavala said in a written interview conducted by Germany’s Spiegel news weekly.
“This is better than turning straight away to sanctions.”
Kavala also released a statement through his lawyers on Tuesday deploring personal attacks against him. In it, he said that he was being portrayed in public as a “dark” and “evil” person. He claimed that four years of his life had been stolen from him.
The 64-year-old, who founded the Anadolu Kultur non-governmental organization, has been in pre-trial detention in Istanbul since 2017, even though the European Court of Human Rights ordered his release in 2019.
Kavala, who could face life in prison if convicted, stands accused of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with the 2013 Gezi protests and the 2016 coup attempt. He denies all charges.
The case led to a diplomatic scandal more than a week ago. Ten embassies in Ankara, including the German embassy, demanded Kavala’s release. Erdogan then announced the expulsion of the ambassadors, but did not follow through on the threat.