A Turkish court on Monday sentenced Osman Kavala, a Turkish businessman and a human rights activist, to life in prison for attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through the Gezi Park anti-government protests in 2013.

In addition to Kavala, the court also sentenced seven other defendants to 18 years in jail each on charges of aiding the attempt to topple the government. Among them is 71-year-old architect Mucella Yapici, and Turkish academic Tayfun Kahraman.

Kavala has been in jail since November 2017 and has become a symbol of what activists say is the deliberate targeting of civil society. A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is the chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which seeks to bridge ethnic and regional divides through art, including with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties.

The protests in 2013 erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. They quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to the use of disproportionate force by the police.

Kavala was born in 1957 in Paris and studied economics at the University of Manchester. Upon his father’s passing in 1982, he took over the management of the Kavala Companies.

He was active in the establishment of a number of business organizations in Turkey, including Turkish-Polish and Turkish-Greek business councils and the Association of Tourism Investors.