Reuters. File photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, October 20, 2021. REUTERS / Afolabi Sotunde
By Darren Butler
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he had asked his foreign ministry to expel ambassadors to the United States and nine Western countries demanding the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.
If seven of the ambassadors represent Turkey’s NATO allies and are expelled, Erdogan’s 19-year rule will open the deepest rift with the West.
Kavala, a contributor to numerous civil society groups, has been in prison for four years, accused of financing nationwide protests in 2013 and being involved in a failed coup in 2016. He has been detained during his latest trial, and has denied the allegations.
In a joint statement issued on October 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 of Kavala’s case and called for “immediate release”. They were summoned by the State Department, which called the statement irresponsible.
“I have given the necessary instructions to our foreign minister and told him what to do: these 10 ambassadors should be immediately declared impersonal. You will pick it up immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the northwestern city. Eskisehir.
“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they don’t know and understand Turkey, the day they leave,” he told the crowd.
The United States, and the French Embassy and the White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Erdogan has previously said he plans to meet with US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in Rome next weekend.
Norway says its embassy has not received any notification from Turkish authorities.
“Our ambassador did nothing to warrant the expulsion,” said Trudeau Massaid, the ministry’s chief spokesman, adding that Turkey was well aware of Norway’s views.
“We call on Turkey to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, which the country has committed to under the European Convention on Human Rights,” Massaid said.
Kavala was acquitted last year of allegations related to the 2013 protests, but this year the verdict was overturned and combined with allegations of coup attempts.
Rights groups say his case is a sign of a crackdown on dissent under Erdogan.
Six countries are members of the European Union, including Germany and France. The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, tweeted: “The expulsion of ten ambassadors is a sign of the authoritarian tendency of the Turkish government. We will not be afraid. Osman Kavala’s independence.”
Danish Foreign Minister Jepp Kofod said his ministry had not received any official notification, but was in contact with his friends and allies.
“We will continue to uphold our common values and principles, as expressed in the joint declaration,” he said in a statement.
A source in the German Foreign Ministry also said that 10 countries were consulting with each other.
Kavala said on Friday https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/philanthropist-kavala-says-no-possibility-fair-trial-turkey-2021-10-22 He will not take part in his trial as one of Erdogan A fair hearing was impossible after the recent comments.
Erdogan was quoted on Thursday as saying that the ambassadors in question would not release “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their respective 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 the crime, and that his detention was intended to silence him.
A similar verdict was handed down this year in the case of Selahatin Demirtas, the former head of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who has been in prison for nearly five years.
The Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of the ECHR decision, has said that if Kavala is not released, it will launch a crackdown on Turkey.
The next hearing of Kavala’s trial is on November 28.