Turkish President Erdogan moves to expel ambassadors from 10 countries, including US

The diplomats are closer to being sent home following previous warning

Ambassadors from the US, France, Canada, Germany and six other countries have been given ‘persona non-grata’ status – a step that could lead to their expulsion from the country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

The ambassadors had called for the release of Osman Kavala, an activist who has funded civil society organisations in Turkey since the 1990s.

Mr Erdogan claims Mr Kavala funded anti-government organisations during two episodes of nationwide protests, in 2013 and in 2016 when an attempted coup caused chaos in Ankara, Istanbul and the southern coastal city of Marmaris.

Mr Kavala was jailed in 2017, along with tens of thousands of Turkish citizens accused of supporting the coup, which was blamed on the Gulen movement, an international religious group that the Turkish government has designated as a terror organisation.

In a joint statement on October 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the US called for a just and speedy resolution to Mr Kavala's case.

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 at once. You will sort it out immediately,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech to a crowd in the city of Eskisehir in north-west Turkey.

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

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

Updated: October 24th 2021, 3:18 AM