The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office issued an arrest warrant yesterday for London-based Turkish actor Mehmet Ali Alabora for his role in the 2013 Gezi Park riots.
Alabora is wanted on charges of attempt to overthrow the government. The actor, who was popular with his TV series in Turkey, was among the most vocal supporters of Gezi Park protests four years ago just as the peaceful protest against the redevelopment of the said park at the heart of Istanbul escalated into all-out riots.
Prosecutors said the protests were not spontaneous and aimed to create a nationwide chaos "under well-planned acts." Alabora is wanted in the case that was launched with the arrest of Osman Kavala, a prominent tycoon accused of conspiring for the riots.
The actor, who famously tweeted that the protests were "not about a few trees that will be felled" moved to England after riots were quelled and has not returned to Turkey since.
Thirteen suspects were detained last month in the same investigation, though 12 were released later. Most of them were members of the Anadolu Kültür association Kavala chaired.
Osman Kavala is known for his close ties to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is linked to the PKK terrorist group. The businessman was named the "Turkish Soros" for his links to the controversial Hungarian-American tycoon.
Turkish officials say Kavala sought to overthrow the government by force through the Gezi Park incidents and used the Open Society and Anadolu Kültür to finance and organize the riots. Suspects held meetings "under a hierarchy" and brought in activists from abroad to stoke riots, police sources said.
On May 31, 2013, Turkish police intervened in what began as a peaceful protest against the redevelopment of Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square at the heart of Istanbul. What followed were nationwide riots that led to the torching of cars, public property and injuries in a matter of a few days. The riots were the work of terrorist groups the PKK and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), along with fringe factions linked to them.
Portrayed as Arab Spring-style riots in the Western media, protesters garnered support even among moderate critics of the government despite their utter violence. The fate of Gezi Park, where officials had plans to rebuild an Ottoman-era building that was thwarted when red tape caused delays in redevelopment plans, is still in limbo. However, for rioters, the protests were a show of force by terrorist groups