Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he has directed his foreign ministry to declare the U.S. envoy to Turkey a “persona non grata” in a Saturday speech in the northwest city of Eskisehir.
The U.S. ambassador, along with nine other envoys from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and New Zealand, have had their diplomatic protections removed.
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“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’,” Erdogan said Saturday, first reported Reuters.
The move comes after the 10 western nations called for businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala to be released from prison earlier this week, following a near four-year internment.
Kavala has been imprisoned since late 2017 and was charged with the 2013 nationwide protests that was followed by a failed coup in 2016.
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The Turkish government has yet to convict him, and Kavala has denied all charges.
International human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has also been held since 2016.
The groups allege both men have been held for political reasons rather than legitimate legal violations.
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U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield was appointed to his post in 2019. But earlier this week the Senate approved the appointment of former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for the job.
Fox News could not immediately reach the State Department for comment.