Did the United States, Germany and other Western countries pull their ambassadors out of Turkey 24 hours before the February 6, 2023, earthquake that killed tens of thousands there? No, that's not true: Diplomatic representatives from the United States, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands confirmed to Lead Stories that their ambassadors were in Turkey at the time of the quake. There is no evidence that other Western countries, such as Italy and France, recalled their ambassadors before the quake.
The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Twitter on February 14, 2023. The tweet read:
List of countries that pulled their ambassadors out of Turkey 24 hours before the earthquake. ✓Canada ✓USA ✓Britain ✓Germany ✓Belgium ✓Italy ✓Holland ✓France Nothing suspicious here -Black Conspiracy Reality
This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Sun Feb 19 17:27:04 2023 UTC)
Lead Stories contacted the governments or Turkish embassy of each of the countries mentioned in the post. Officials from the United States, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands all confirmed that their countries' ambassadors were in Turkey at the time of the quake.
In reference to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeffry L. Flake, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, using the official Turkish spelling for "Turkey," wrote to Lead Stories in a February 21, 2023, email:
Ambassador Flake was in Türkiye when the earthquakes hit on Monday, February 6th and he remained in country to lead the U.S. Mission and coordinate the U.S. response through the resulting humanitarian crisis.
A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada, the government department that handles Canadian diplomatic affairs, told Lead Stories that Canada's ambassador was in Ankara, Turkey, in the days leading up to and at the time of the February 6, 2023, quake.
A spokesperson for the Dutch ambassador to Turkey, Joep Wijnands, confirmed the ambassador has not been outside of Turkey since the start of 2023. In a February 21, 2023, email, the spokesperson wrote:
At the time of the first earthquake on February 6th Ambassador Wijnands was at home in Ankara. During the second earthquake, he was at work at the Embassy.
Germany's ambassador to Turkey, Jurgen Schulz, also was in the Turkish capital, Ankara, during the earthquake, according to a spokesperson at Germany's Federal Foreign Office.
Lead Stories will update this fact check, as appropriate, if we hear back from the other countries contacted: France, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
The post on Twitter that reported Western countries had withdrawn their ambassadors from Turkey did not provide any proof to subtantiate its claim. There have been no credible media reports of those countries recalling their ambassadors from Turkey immediately before the earthquake.
In the aftermath of recent Quran-burning incidents in Europe, several countries listed in the tweet did temporarily close their consulates in Turkey and/or issue travel warnings for the country, as can be seen here and here. Ahead of the quake, Turkey summoned the ambassadors of seven of the listed countries to criticize their decisions. None of the countries permanently recalled its ambassador over the criticism.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the February 6, 2023, earthquake and its aftershocks can be found here.