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'Calculated cruelty': Turkey re-arrests Osman Kavala hours after acquittal

New warrant was issued in relation to 2016 coup attempt, hours after the philanthropist was acquitted of attempting to overthrow the government
Osman Kavala, a philanthropist known for his civil society work, has been in custody for more than two years (AFP)

Turkish businessman Osman Kavala has been detained by police for alleged links with a 2016 failed coup attempt, hours after he was acquitted for his alleged role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported late on Tuesday that prosecutors had accused Kavala of "attempting to undermine the constitutional order" in relation to the 2016 coup attempt which Ankara has blamed on Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States. 

The announcement appeared to have dashed hopes for Kavala's freedom, a philanthropist known for his civil society work, who has spent the last 840 days in prison.

'It is time for Turkey to end the relentless crackdown on dissenting voices'

- Milena Buyum, Amnesty

Emma Sinclair Webb, the head of the Turkey office of Human Rights Watch, described the new warrant as "lawless" and "vindictive", adding that it showed that Turkey's justice system was "under tight political control". 

Meanwhile, Amnesty International slammed Kavala's "cynical and outrageous detention" and called for his immediate release.

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"This decision smacks of deliberate and calculated cruelty," Amnesty''s Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum said in a statement.

"It is time for Turkey to end the relentless crackdown on dissenting voices."

'Not enough concrete evidence'

The fresh detention request by Istanbul prosecutors came as scores of people including MPs, other defendants and supporters were waiting for Kavala to be released at a roadside restaurant near the Silivri prison complex where he was held. 

Earlier on Tuesday, a court near Istanbul said there was "not enough concrete evidence" against Kavala and eight other suspects when they were acquitted on attempting to overthrow the government by organising the Gezi Park protests.

All denied the allegations, but only Kavala had been kept in custody while the trial proceeded.

The 2013 protests originally began as a demonstration against the demolition of one of the last green spaces in Istanbul, but quickly spiralled into an expression of opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule.

More than three million people were involved in the demonstrations across the country.

Critics of Erdogan's government have repeatedly questioned the independence of Turkish courts, especially since a crackdown following the failed 2016 coup attempt.

Since then, around 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial and 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended.

Last month, a US think tank report on Turkey's foreign policy caused controversy after it suggested a new military coup attempt was plausible.

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