Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he instructed the foreign minister to declare 10 ambassadors, including Washington’s envoy, ‘persona non grata’ over a rare joint statement urging release of a jailed opposition figure.
The move was announced by Turkey’s president during a public speech on Saturday.
“I gave the necessary instructions to our foreign minister, I said that you will handle the denunciation of the 10 ambassadors as soon as possible,” Erdogan said.
READ MORE: Turkey arrests 81 suspects linked to Gulen in crackdown against Muslim cleric who Ankara accuses of being behind 2016 coup
The furious reaction was prompted by a joint statement, released by the 10 envoys earlier this week. The ambassadors urged a speedy and just resolution to the case of Osman Kavala – a Turkish businessman and philanthropist held in jail without conviction since late 2017. Kavala faces a large number of charges, including alleged financing of anti-Erdogan protests and participating in the botched 2016 coup.
On Tuesday, the envoys of Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US were summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry over their “irresponsible” statement and “politicizing [of] the Kavala case.”
The joint statement was published to mark the fourth anniversary of Kavala’s first arrest. The businessman has already been tried and acquitted twice on charges related to the 2013 Gezi Park unrest and the 2016 failed coup. This, however, has not done Kavala any good, as orders for his release have been overruled with new charges immediately after the acquittals.
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Kavala’s supporters, however, believe him to be a political prisoner, targeted for his human rights work in Erdogan’s ‘increasingly authoritarian’ Turkey.
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