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Turkey to expel 10 ambassadors over statement on activist’s detention

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has ordered the ministry of foreign affairs to begin the process of expelling 10 ambassadors from the country.

Speaking on Saturday when he addressed citizens in Eskişehir, a city in the north-western area of Turkey, Erdogan said the ambassadors “must be declared persona non grata” immediately.

The development comes days after a statement by the Ankara embassies of Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America, calling for the release of Osman Kavala.

Kavala, an activist known for supporting the arts, has spent years in prison over allegations of sponsoring protests against the Turkish government in 2013.

In December 2019, the European court of human rights had called on the Turkish authorities to release the activist “in the absence of facts, information or evidence showing that Mr Kavala had been involved in criminal activity”.

In a statement dated October 18, the ambassadors urged the Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and release the activist.

The statement reads,“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.

“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. Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release.”

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