Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a press conference during the NATO Summit at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on June 14, 2021.
Eve Hermann | Reuters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to declare 10 ambassadors from Western countries “persona non grata” for their call for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.
Kavala has been in prison for four years, accused of financing nationwide protests in 2013 and participating in a failed coup attempt in 2016. He denies the charges.
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 solution to the Kavala case, and to the “Kavala case.” Urgent release.” They were summoned by the State Department which called the statement irresponsible.
“I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what to do: These 10 ambassadors should be declared persona non grata at once. We will sort it out immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the northwestern Turkish city of Eskisehir. .
“They will know and understand Turkey. On the day they don’t know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said to the cheers of the crowd.
The US, German and French embassies, the White House and the US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but the sentence was overturned this year and was linked to charges in another case related to the attempted coup.
Rights groups say his case is emblematic of the crackdown on dissent under Erdogan.
Kavala said on Friday that it would be “meaningless” for him to attend his trial because a fair hearing is impossible given Erdogan’s recent comments.
Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday that the ambassadors concerned would not release “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their countries.
“Since there is no possibility of a fair trial under these circumstances, I believe that participating in the hearings and presenting my defense will make no sense from now on,” Kavala said in a written statement.
The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s immediate release in late 2019, saying there was no reasonable doubt that he had committed a crime, and finding that his arrest was aimed at silencing him.
It issued a similar ruling this year in the case of Selahattin Demirtas, the former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been detained for nearly five years.
The Council of Europe, which oversees implementation of European Court of Human Rights decisions, said it would initiate infringement proceedings against Turkey if Kavala was not released.
The next hearing in the case against Kavala et al. is scheduled for November 26.