The businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavalaa day after Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld his life sentence, today denounced a contempt for the law and human life, according to comments reported by a lawmaker who visited him in prison.

Jailed for six years, Kavala is accused of organizing and financing the 2013 Gezi protests in Istanbul in an attempt to topple the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This decision results from a consideration that does not consider either the law or human life“, the philanthropist told a member of parliament who visited him today in Silivria prison, west of Istanbul.

MP Enis Berberoglu, who reported Kavala’s remarks to AFP, said his meeting with the Turkish philanthropist lasted “fifteen to twenty minutes”.

Kavala told him that he learned “from the television” of the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal but assured him that “he has high morale”.

Kavala, 65, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April 2022 for organizing and financing protests in 2013. The court’s verdict was seen at the time as a symbol of the crackdown on dissidents in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey and punishment, through the judicial system, of those which the government considers its enemies. All defendants have denied the charges, arguing that the 2013 protests were spontaneous.

The court yesterday upheld the life sentence for Kavala and 18 years for four other defendants, among whom is the lawyer Can Atalai, who was elected to parliament last May. On the contrary, the sentence for Mujela Yapici, Hakan Altinai and Yigit Ekmekci was overturned.

The ruling marks the end of legal remedies for Kavala, who has remained in prison since 2017. The Constitutional Court had already rejected his appeal.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey in 2013, protesting government plans to build a replica Ottoman barracks in Gezi Park. At the time, Erdogan equated the protesters with terrorists and repeatedly accused Kavala of financing the protests.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Kavala and other defendants should be released because their rights were violated, but Turkey has not implemented the ruling and now faces the possibility of sanctions from the Council of Europe.