Turkey to Expel 10 Ambassadors of Western Countries

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to declare 10 ambassadors from Western countries “persona non grata.” This was triggered by the call of the ten diplomats to release philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala.

Kavala has been behind bars since late 2017, he was accused of financing national demonstrations in 2013 and involvement in a failed coup in 2016. But he denies all the accusations.

In a joint statement on October 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States called for a fair and speedy resolution of the Kavala case. They were summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which called the statement irresponsible.

“I gave the necessary orders to our foreign ministers and said what to do: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once. You will finish them soon,” Erdogan said in a speech to a crowd in Eskisehir, northwestern Turkey, as quoted from Reuters.

Kavala was acquitted of charges related to demonstrations last year. But that decision was overturned this year and combined with charges in other cases linked to the coup attempt. Rights groups say his case is symbolic of a crackdown on dissent under the Erdogan government. [ah]

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