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Turkey: Erdogan walks back threat to expel Western diplomats

DW, 26 Oct 2021
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday backed down from a threat he made two days ago to eject 10 diplomats from Western countries after they voiced support for activist Osman Kavala.

Kavala is a civil society leader and philanthropist who has been detained on charges of financing protests and involvement in an attempted coup in 2016.

Erdogan said the envoys had issued a new statement on the matter, which he said "shows they have taken a step back from the slander against our country."

"They will be more careful now," he added.

Erdogan's change in attitude came after the United States and several other countries issued identical statements saying they respected a UN convention that says diplomats should not interfere in their host country's domestic affairs.

Last week, the Ankara embassies of the US, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden issued a joint call for Turkey to resolve Kavala's case.

The 64-year-old has been languishing in jail without a conviction for nearly four years. He is widely scene as a symbol of innocent political prisoners within Turkey, the number of which drastically increased after a failed coup attempt in 2016.

An irate Erdogan said that "the Turkish judiciary doesn't take orders from anyone, and is not under anyone's command." He accused the involved countries of trying to violate Turkey's sovereignty.

Over the weekend, he had threatened to expel all 10 diplomats.

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