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RIGHTS > US 'shares concerns' regarding Turkey’s Internet bill

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US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki briefs the media and regarding Indian outrage from the briefing room of the US Department of State Dec. 20, 2013, in Washington, DC. AFP photo

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki briefs the media and regarding Indian outrage from the briefing room of the US Department of State Dec. 20, 2013, in Washington, DC. AFP photo

The United States shares concerns expressed elsewhere that the controversial Internet bill recently adopted by the Turkish Parliament is not “compatible with freedom of expression,” a State Department Spokesperson has said.

“We share the concerns recently expressed by the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media – and there was a whole statement that I’d point you to – that these proposed measures are not compatible with international standards on freedom of expression,” Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Feb. 6. 

“They also have the potential to significantly impact free expression, investigative journalism, the protection of journalist sources, political discourse, and access to information over the internet. So those are all areas we would be concerned about,” she added.

Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE’s top official responsible on media, said in a statement on Jan. 31 that the bill could further restrict freedom of expression in Turkey. 

“If the new measures are adopted they would place a disproportionate burden on Internet service and hosting providers,” Mijatović said, following an assessment of the amendments included in the bill by her office. 

Psaki said Washington was actively monitoring the new legislation, confirming that Washington’s position was in line with that of the OSCE.

“We have been and continue to be strong advocates for freedom of expression around the world, and we believe, of course, that democracies are strengthened by the diverse voices of their people,” she said.

The measures included in an omnibus bill received strong criticisms after they were passed in the Parliament Feb. 6, particularly from the EU.

“Turkey’s Internet law to be adopted raises serious concerns. The public needs more transparency and information, not restrictions,” Füle wrote on his Twitter account Feb. 6 both in English and in Turkish while Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said that the legislation was a step back in an “already suffocating environment for media freedom.”

February/07/2014

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