Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the expulsion of ambassadors of ten countries, including Germany and the United States, over their statement on the ongoing case of a businessman Osman Kavala.
Addressing a ceremony in Eskisehir province, President Erdogan said he has instructed his foreign minister to declare the ambassadors of these countries as persona non grata.
“I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata (undesirable) at once. You will sort it out immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the northwestern city of Eskisehir.
“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said
The embassies of the United States, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Norway, and New Zealand had shared a statement on social media calling for Kavala’s release.
Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of these countries, accusing them of meddling in the country’s judiciary.
Seven of the ambassadors represent Turkey’s NATO allies and the expulsions, if carried out, would open the deepest rift with the West in Erdogan’s 19 years in power.
Kavala, a contributor to 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.
In a joint statement on Oct. 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 Kavala’s case, and for his “urgent release”. They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.
The U.S. and French embassies and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said it was aware of the reports and was seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.