Erdogan moves against 10 Western ambassadors for statement on Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved to expel 10 Western ambassadors in Ankara after they issued an unusual joint statement calling for the release of a jailed civil society leader.

The ambassadors are from the US, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. On Monday, they called for the release of businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been jailed since 2017 without a trial.

“I have ordered our foreign minister to declare these 10 ambassadors as persona non grata as soon as possible,” Erdogan said on Saturday.

Declaring a diplomat persona non grata is the first step in expelling them. The declaration amounts to asking them to leave the country.

Kavala has been in prison since late 2017, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a 2016 failed coup. He denies the charges.

Erdogan accused the ambassadors of “indecency”.

“They must know and understand Turkey,” Erdogan said and added that “they must leave here the day they no longer know Turkey.”

The envoys had said that the continued detention of Parisian-born philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala “cast a shadow” over Turkey.

They called for “just and speedy resolution to [Kavala’s] case”

Kavala has become a symbol of the sweeping crackdown Erdogan unleashed after surviving the coup attempt, Aljazeera TV said.

Speaking to the AFP news agency from his jail cell last week, Kavala said he felt like a tool in Erdogan’s attempts to blame a foreign plot for domestic opposition to his nearly two-decade rule.

The Council of Europe, the continent’s top human rights watchdog, issued a final warning to Turkey to comply with a 2019 European Court of Human Rights order to release Kavala pending trial.

If Turkey fails to do so by its next meeting from November 30 – December 2, the Strasbourg-based council could vote to launch its first disciplinary proceedings against Ankara.


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