ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he had ordered 10 foreign ambassadors who called for the release of a jailed philanthropist to be declared persona non grata.
The envoys, which included the U.S. and French representatives in Ankara issued a statement earlier in the week calling for a solution to the case Osman Kavala ,, a businessman/philanthropist who has been in prison since 2017, despite not being convicted of any crime.
Describing Erdogan’s statement as an “impudence”, Erdogan stated that he had directed the ambassadors to be declared unfit.
“I gave the instruction to our foreign minister and said ‘You will immediately handle the persona non grata declaration of these 10 ambassadors,'” Erdogan said during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir.
The diplomats, which include ambassadors from the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark as well as the representatives of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, were summoned on Tuesday to the foreign ministry.
A declaration of persona nu grata against a diplomat typically means that the diplomat is prohibited from staying in their host country.
Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined to charges relating to a 2016 coup attempt.
International observers have called repeatedly for the release Kavala as well as Selahattin, a Kurdish politician who has been in prison since 2016.. They claim their imprisonment is due to political considerations. Ankara rejects the claims and insists upon the independence of Turkish courts.
The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala‘s release in 2019, saying his incarceration acted to silence him and wasn’t supported by evidence of an offense. The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings again Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not released.
The current U.S. Ambassador, David Satterfield was appointed in 2019. On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Jeff Flake’s nomination as his replacement.
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