Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is lashing out at the United States and European countries for their joint statement demanding the immediate release of billionaire philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who has been in Turkish custody since 2017.

Erdogan lambasted the demand, saying "Those who defend this Soros leftover are trying to get him released. I told our foreign minister that we cannot afford to host them in our country." He questioned, "Why would the 10 ambassadors make such a statement?"

Osman Kavala, file image

Erdogan lashed out further in front of reporters as cited in Anadolu Agency: "How dare you teach such a lesson to Turkey? Who are you? What do they say? 'Release Kavala.' Do you leave the bandits, murderers, terrorists in your own countries?"

As to the veiled threat about about not being able to "host them in our country," Ankara has signaled to foreign embassies it's ready to make good on this, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoning an unprecedented ten diplomats to discuss and protest the matter. They were reportedly told the joint statement "irresponsible" and "unacceptable".

The statement protesting Kavala's continued custody was signed by representatives of the US, Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand. Social media messages calling for the philanthropist's release were further posted by the embassies.

Crucially the joint message questioned the state of democracy and human rights within the country that is NATO's second most powerful militarily.

The full October 18 US State Dept. statement which has outraged Erdogan reads as follows:

Today marks four years since the ongoing detention of Osman Kavala began. 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.

Together, the embassies of Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America believe a just and speedy resolution to his case must be in line with Turkey’s international obligations and domestic laws. Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release.

Kavala's supporters, meanwhile, have long said the charges against him are purely politically motivated. The 64-year old was initially arrested in October 2017, and the Turkish state heaped an array of charges on him which included supporting the Gezi protests in 2013 and even allegations of participation in the failed coup of 2016.

Erdogan's calling him a "Soros leftover" is due to the AK Parti seeing him as a malevolent and subversive figure intent on using his extensive wealth and influence to overthrow their rule via whipping up popular anger in the streets. Kavala has reportedly been held for years in appalling conditions without trial or recourse through the judicial system.