EU and US express concern over Turkish media crackdown

By bne IntelliNews December 15, 2014

bne IntelliNews -

 

The US and EU expressed concern on December 14 after Turkish police raided media outlets close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foe Fethullah Gulen. More than 20 people were arrested, including the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zaman, executive of Samanyolu TV, and ex-police chiefs.

Arrest warrants were issued on charges of founding and directing an armed terror organisation, being a member of this organisation, and engaging in forgery and slander, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

"The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy," said EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, in a written statement. "Coming only a few days after our visit to Turkey, which has underlined the importance of EU-Turkey relations, this operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of and which are the core of reinforced relations," the statement read.

"Any further step towards accession with any candidate country depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights," Mogherini and Hahn said, adding that they will convey their concerns to the European Council, which will on December 16 discuss enlargement policy, including Turkey.

The US is closely following reports that Turkish police have conducted a series of raids and arrests at locations across Turkey, the US state department’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said on December 14. It appears that media outlets that have been openly critical of the current Turkish government are among the targets of these actions by Turkish law enforcement, Psaki said, adding that media freedom, due process, and judicial independence are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined in the Turkish constitution. As Turkey’s friend and ally, the US urges the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate these core values and Turkey's own democratic foundations, the statement added.

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