Erdogan ejects 10 Western ambassadors

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has expelled 10 ambassadors from western countries over calls for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala. Kavala has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016.

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from ABC News 24.10.21

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the foreign ministry to expel the ambassadors of the United States, New Zealand and eight other Western countries for demanding the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.

Seven of the ambassadors represent Turkey’s NATO allies and the expulsions, if carried out, would open the deepest rift with the West in Mr Erdogan’s 19 years in power.

Mr Kavala, a contributor to numerous civil society groups, has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016.

He has remained in detention while his latest trial continues, and denies the charges.

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 just and speedy resolution to Mr Kavala’s case.

They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.

He used a term meaning that a diplomat is no longer welcome in the country.

“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said to cheers from the crowd in the northwestern city of Eskisehir.

Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala speaks during an event in Istanbul in this undated photo.
Parisian-born Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala.(AFP: Anadolu Culture Center/File photo)

The US, German and French embassies and the White House and US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said its embassy in Ankara had not received information from Turkish authorities regarding the matter at this time.

She added that that Turkey was well aware of Norway’s view on this case.

“We will continue to call on Turkey to comply with democratic standards and the rule of law to which the country committed itself under the European Human Rights Convention,” Ms Maaseide said.

A crackdown on dissent

Mr Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the protests, but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges in another case related to the coup attempt.

Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Mr Erdogan.

Six of the countries involved are EU members, including Germany and France.

European Parliament President David Sassoli tweeted that the explusion was a sign of “the authoritarian drift of the Turkish government”.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said his ministry had not received any official notification, but was in contact with its friends and allies.

“We will continue to guard our common values and principles, as also expressed in the joint declaration,” he said in a statement.

Mr Kavala said on Friday that it would be “meaningless” for him to attend his trial as a fair hearing was impossible given recent comments by the President.

Mr Erdogan was cited on Thursday as saying the ambassadors in question would not release “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their own countries.

The European Court of Human Rights called for Mr Kavala’s immediate release in late 2019, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence, and finding that his detention had been intended to silence him.

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