Erdogan threatens to expel 10 Western envoys

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday threatened to expel the US, German and eight other Western ambassadors after they issued a rare joint statement in support of a jailed civil society leader.

Parisian-born philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala, 64, has been in jail without a conviction since 2017, becoming a symbol of what critics see as Erdogan’s growing intolerance of dissent.

The 10 ambassadors issued a highly unusual joint statement on Monday — distributed widely on their Turkish social media accounts — saying Kavala’s continued detention “cast a shadow” over Turkey.

“I told our foreign minister that we cannot have the luxury of hosting them in our country,” Erdogan told reporters in comments published by Turkish media.

Kavala has faced a string of alternating charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a failed military coup in 2016.

In their statement, the US, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden called for a “just and speedy resolution to (Kavala)’s case”.

The 10 envoys were summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday.

Erdogan sounded incandescent with rage in a conversation with Turkish reporters on board his return flight from a tour of Africa.

“Is it within your boundary to teach such a lesson to Turkey? Who are you?” he demanded in comments carried by the private NTV broadcaster.

The Turkish lira extended its fall into record-low territory against the dollar within moments of Erdogan’s comments on fears of a new wave of Turkish tensions with the West.

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