Turkey decision on envoys regrettable, says Finland’s PM

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Finland’s leader said Sunday that the Turkish president’s decision to order that 10 foreign ambassadors, including the Nordic country’s envoy, be declared persona non grata after calling for the release of a jailed philanthropist and human rights activist was a “regrettable situation.”

Prime Minister Sanna Marin told public broadcaster YLE that “this is a tough reaction” from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who announced the move on Saturday.

A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that the individual is banned from remaining in their host country. The diplomats were summoned to Turkey’s foreign ministry on Tuesday.

The envoys from the U.S., France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand had issued a statement calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist held in prison since 2017 despite not having been convicted of a crime.

“This is a very regrettable situation. We’ve considered it important that the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights are respected and complied with, and therefore have called for the release of this human rights activist,” Marin said.

Kavala was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined to charges relating to a 2016 coup attempt.

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