Devlet Bahçeli, a close ally of President Tayyip Erdoğan and the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has said that imprisoned businessman Osman Kavala should be stripped of Turkish citizenship and sent into exile once he is out of jail.

Kavala is accused of orchestrating the Gezi Park mass protests in the summer of 2013 in a trial described as absurd by rights groups. The latest hearing of his trial took place at the İstanbul 30th High Criminal Court in the Silivri Prison Complex on Thursday.

Prosecutors claim the Gezi protests were organized from outside the country to “bring Turkey to its knees.”

Kavala has been in jail since November 2017 and has become a symbol of what activists say is the deliberate targeting of civil society.

Last week, the ambassadors of 10 Western countries issued a joint statement through their social media accounts, saying that Kavala’s continued detention “cast a shadow” over Turkey.

Following the statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to expel the ambassadors.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the weekend threatened to expel the ambassadors, accusing them of interfering in Turkey’s internal affairs; however, he stepped back from his threats on Monday after the United States and several of the other concerned countries issued identical statements saying they respected a UN convention that required diplomats not to interfere in the host country’s domestic affairs.

“Our suggestion regarding Kavala is this: This pro-Soros person should first serve his sentence in Turkey if he is convicted, then he should be stripped of Turkish citizenship and sent to one of the countries of the 10 ambassadors,” Bahçeli said at a meeting of his party on Tuesday.

The MHP leader, who is a close ally of Erdoğan, said no envoy of a foreign country can be allowed to interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs.