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Erdogan expel 10 western ambassadors including US envoy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he ordered Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to remove 10 Western ambassadors from the country.

The envoys, including the U.S., French and German representatives in Ankara, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist held in prison since 2017 despite not having been convicted of a crime.

Last year he was acquitted of the charges related to the anti-government protests of 2013, but was re-arrested before his release over allegations that he was involved in 2016 coup attempt.

It is yet not clear if Erdogan’s decision to remove the diplomats is final. Turkey’s foreign minister is currently in South Korea until Oct. 24. No one in the Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on the matter.

Describing the statement as an “impudence,” Erdogan said he had ordered the ambassadors be declared undesirable.

“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.

He added: “They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave.”

A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that individual is banned from remaining in their host country.

International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since 2016. They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the claims and insists on 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. The nomination of his replacement, Jeff Flake, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

After Erdogan’s order was reported, the State Department said in a statement, “We are aware of these reports and are seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” (Inputs from News Agency)


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