Turkish President threatens to expel Finnish ambassador

Ambassadors from ten countries, including Finland, were summoned to Turkey's foreign ministry earlier this week after jointly demanding the release of a Turkish activist.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Image: Ozan Kose / AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to expel Finland's ambassador, along with ambassadors from nine other countries, after they jointly issued a petition demanding the release of a Turkish activist.

The ambassadors' petition called for the immediate release of the Turkish philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala who has been jailed for years, without being convicted.

The ten ambassadors were summoned to Turkey's foreign ministry earlier this week to explain the statement, which called for a "just and speedy resolution to Kavala's case".

In addition to the Finnish ambassador, the ambassadors of Germany, the United States, France, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand have also been threatened with expulsion.

Turkish media reported on Thursday that Erdoğan told the country's foreign minister that Turkey does not have the "luxury of accommodating them in our country", although it was unclear how serious Erdoğan was with his threat.

Diplomatic relations between Finland and Turkey have been cordial, so the expulsion of an ambassador would be exceptional in the history of relations between the two countries.

Finland's Ambassador to Turkey, Ari Mäki, did not wish to comment when contacted by Yle.

Speaking to the news agency AFP last week about his continued imprisonment, Kavala said he felt he was being used by Erdoğan in an attempt to portray the domestic opposition as a foreign conspiracy.

"I think the real reason behind my continued detention is that it addresses the need of the government to keep alive the fiction that the [2013] Gezi protests were the result of a foreign conspiracy," Kavala said.