Erdoğan orders foreign minister to expel ambassadors from 10 Western countries

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Saturday that he has called on his foreign minister to banish 10 ambassadors from Western countries, including the United States, after they called for the “urgent release” of a Turkish philanthropist, Reuters reported.

"I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once. You will sort it out immediately," Erdoğan said during a speech on Saturday, referring to a phrase that means that a person is unwelcome, according to the news outlet.

Earlier this week, ambassadors from the embassies of 10 countries called on a resolution for the case of Osman Kavala, who has been in prison for several years after facing charges both in 2013 and 2016 for allegedly financially backing the 2013 protests and for his supposed involvement in a 2016 attempted coup.  

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Those charges have been disputed by Kavala, and he was originally absolved of his 2013-related charges; however, earlier this year, the 2013-charges were reinstated along with charges from the 2016 incident, according to Reuters. 

“Today marks four years since the ongoing detention of Osman Kavala began. The continuing delays in his trial, including by merging different cases and creating new ones after a previous acquittal, cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system,” according to a statement issued on Monday through the U.S. Embassy in Turkey.

“Together, the embassies of Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America believe a just and speedy resolution to his case must be in line with Turkey’s international obligations and domestic laws,” the statement continued. “Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release.”

Erdoğan claimed in his speech Saturday that the countries will “know and understand Turkey,” adding that “the day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave," according to Reuters.

"We are aware of these reports and are seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs," a State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a statement when asked about the Reuters report.

The head of communications for Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters in an email that "our ambassador has not done anything that warrants an expulsion," and said that their embassy in Turkey has not been notified of the issue. 

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Turkey for comment.

Updated 7:49 p.m.