NEWSMAKER-Osman Kavala, prisoner embroiled in Turkey's standoff with West

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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Philanthropist Osman Kavala, the man dragged into a diplomatic spat between Ankara and its Western allies last month, played a big role developing Turkish civil society before being jailed in 2017 on a charge of seeking to overthrow the government.

On Friday, he faces his first court hearing since a call by Western countries for his release triggered a threat from President Tayyip Erdogan to expel their ambassadors.

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Kavala, 64, has been involved in numerous civil society projects over the decades, from a publishing house that aimed to foster social change after Turkey's 1980 coup to boosting culture through his Anadolu Kultur organisation.

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That work came to an abrupt halt on Oct. 18, 2017, when he was detained at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. Two weeks later he was jailed pending trial, accused of attempting to oust the government by force - a charge carrying a life sentence.

Since then he has been held in Silivri prison, near Istanbul, and is being tried in a case which has attracted growing support from foreign officials and human rights groups.

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On the fourth anniversary of his arrest, the U.S. ambassador and nine others called in a joint statement for his urgent release and a just and speedy resolution to his case.

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