A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that an individual is banned from remaining in their host country.
The US, along with France and Germany, signed a statement condemning the wrongful imprisonment of Osman Kavala, who has been locked up since 2017 without having been formally charged of any crime.
On September 17, the Council of Europe issued Turkey a final warning to release the 64-year-old entrepreneur, warning that infringement proceedings against Ankara would start at the end of November if Kavala was not released by then.
But Turkey, so far, has refused to acknowledge the ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on December 10, 2019, which stated that the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated and therefore ordered Kavala to be released immediately.
International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since 2016. They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the claims and insists on the independence of Turkish courts.
The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s release in 2019, saying his incarceration acted to silence him and wasn’t supported by evidence of an offense. The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings against Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not released.
The current U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, was appointed in 2019. The nomination of his replacement, Jeff Flake, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
After Erdogan’s order was reported, the State Department said in a statement, “We are aware of these reports and are seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
In response, Erdogan declared the diplomats of 10 countries unwelcome in Ankara, including the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand.
“I gave the instruction to our foreign minister and said, ‘You will immediately handle the persona non grata declaration of these 10 ambassadors,’” Erdogan stated during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir, according to The Associated Press. “They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave,” he added.
Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year on charges stemming from national anti-government protests in 2013, however that ruling was overturned and new charges added, a practice condemned by the U.S. Embassy in Turkey.
“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,” the embassy said in a statement.