Erdogan Blames Jailed Philanthropist’s Wife for Stirring Protest

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the wife of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala for provoking student protests at an Istanbul university where she’s an acclaimed academic.

Erdogan on Friday called Ayse Bugra a “provocateur” and her husband a “representative” of George Soros in Turkey. Soros has been attacked by nationalist politicians and commentators in Turkey and elsewhere over his support for liberal causes, with many of the barbs widely seen as anti-Semitic.

Erdogan Blames Jailed Philanthropist’s Wife for Stirring Protest

Students, professors and alumni at Bogazici University have been protesting the appointment of rector Melih Bulu, a former ruling AK Party member and Erdogan loyalist, since early January. Police have detained dozens of protesters and raided some of their homes.

Erdogan called the demonstrators “terrorists who wanted to raid the university rector’s office” and vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to stop them.

Businessman Osman Kavala has been in prison for more than three years over accusations he financed anti-government rallies in 2013 and collaborated with a secretive religious group during the failed military coup in 2016. A court last year cleared him of any wrongdoing during the protests, but he’s still held in prison over the most recent charges. On Friday, a court ruled to merge his file with the Gezi Park protests case, once again denying his request for freedom.

Kavala denies taking part in the putsch attempt and asked the Constitutional Court to release him on the grounds that he didn’t have access to alleged evidence tying him to it. Turkey has so far rejected calls from Washington and European capitals to release Kavala.

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