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Turkey to expel U.S. envoy and nine others, Erdogan says

WorldOct 23, 2021 10:40PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde 2/2

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had told his foreign ministry to expel the ambassadors of the United States and nine 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 Erdogan's 19 years in power.

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 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.

"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 to cheers from the crowd.

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.

Erdogan has said previously that he plans to meet U.S. President Joe Biden at a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Rome next weekend.

One diplomatic source said de-escalation was possible given Turkey has now made its stance very clear, and given the potential diplomatic fallout from such a move ahead of the G20 summit and the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow starting at the end of the month.

"No instructions have been given to embassies," the source said, adding that it was possible a decision may be taken at Turkey's cabinet meeting on Monday.

Norway said its embassy had not received any notification from Turkish authorities.

"Our ambassador has not done anything that warrants an expulsion," said the ministry's chief spokesperson, Trude Maaseide, adding that Turkey was well aware of Norway's views.

"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," Maaseide said.

New Zealand's foreign ministry said on Sunday it would not comment until it hears "anything formally through official channels," and added in an e-mailed statement that "New Zealand values its relationship with Turkey."

'AUTHORITARIAN DRIFT'

Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges related to the coup attempt.

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

Six of the countries involved are EU members, including Germany and France. European Parliament President David Sassoli tweeted: "The expulsion of ten ambassadors is a sign of the authoritarian drift of the Turkish government. We will not be intimidated. Freedom for Osman Kavala."

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.

A source at the German Foreign Ministry also said the 10 countries were consulting with one another.

Kavala said on Friday https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/philanthropist-kavala-says-no-possibility-fair-trial-turkey-2021-10-22 he would no longer attend his trial as a fair hearing was impossible after recent comments by Erdogan.

Erdogan was quoted 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 Kavala's immediate release two years ago, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence, and finding that his detention had been intended to silence him.

It issued a similar ruling this year in the case of Selahattin Demirtas, former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), who has been held in jail for nearly five years.

The Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of ECHR decisions, has said it will begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if Kavala is not released.

The next hearing in Kavala's trial is on Nov. 26.

Turkey to expel U.S. envoy and nine others, Erdogan says
 

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Comments (10)
Pa za
payman Oct 27, 2021 5:44AM ET
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he destroys turkey.
Vijay Lohitsa
Vijay Lohitsa Oct 24, 2021 2:20AM ET
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While Erdogan is a fool and a dictator, one cannot but tolerate US-Europe interfearing in affairs of a sovereign country. Who are they to lecture anyone. Freedom in Europe is fake, European govt. are weak and enforce their will on their citizens calling them law and order. Every aspect of life is controlled by the govt in Europe and US.
morning wood
morning wood Oct 24, 2021 1:51AM ET
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can't expect much from a country named after poultry
Engin Rençber
Engin Rençber Oct 24, 2021 1:51AM ET
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read some history and learn where its name comes from.
Petros Danielyan
Petros Danielyan Oct 24, 2021 12:39AM ET
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he lost his mind, finally
Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Dangerfield Oct 23, 2021 9:33PM ET
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zsa zsa Gabor being arrested after smacking a state patrolman said.. I am a Turkish freedom fighter we are The descendants of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan said she kept her medicine in the glove compartment... a flask
Mohd Aznan
Aznan Oct 23, 2021 3:11PM ET
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Hypocrisy to the max.. typical western countries meddling with other internal affairs while closing eyes to other issues especially in Palestine.. failed attempt to remove Erdogan and now trying to cover their failed coup by bringing that traitor out of Turkey..
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Oct 23, 2021 2:02PM ET
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Erdogan was quieter with Trump in DC. As of now, nobody respects a senile fool, aka present US President.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Oct 23, 2021 1:14PM ET
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If he jails an above average Joe for speaking out against him, he is nothing but a dirt bag.
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Oct 23, 2021 12:36PM ET
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Erdohan is running Turkey to the ground. It used to be a great country.
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Oct 23, 2021 11:36AM ET
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good for him
Jose Maderno
Jose Maderno Oct 23, 2021 11:36AM ET
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Agreed.  Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States are all owned by Soros and define the most dangerous evil in this world.  Turkey will never regret it.
Pa za
payman Oct 23, 2021 11:36AM ET
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Jose Maderno these are best countries in the world , this guy soros must be really good guy then!
 
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