Erdogan orders the removal of 10 ambassadors, including a US envoy

ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he had ordered 10 foreign ambassadors calling for the release of a jailed philanthropist to be declared persona non grata.

Envoys, including US, French and German representatives in Ankara, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a solution to the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist who has been in prison since 2017 despite not being convicted. for a crime.

Erdogan described the statement as a “rudeness”, saying he had ordered the ambassadors to be declared unwanted.

“I gave the instruction to our Foreign Minister and said ‘You will immediately deal with the persona non grata statement from these 10 ambassadors,'” Erdogan said during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir.

He added: “They want to recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they do not know or understand Turkey, they leave. ”

The diplomats, which also include the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand, were summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that a person is banned from staying in his host country.

Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide protests against the government in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined charges of a 2016 coup attempt.

International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who have been imprisoned since 2016. They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the allegations and insists on the independence of Turkish courts.

The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s release in 2019 and said his imprisonment acted to silence him and was not supported by evidence of an offense. The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings again in Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not released.

The current U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, was appointed in 2019. The nomination of his successor, Jeff Flake, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

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