POLITICS > At least free speech exists in Israel, Auster tells Turkish PM

The New York Times

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American writer Paul Auster said in an interview last week with the daily Hürriyet that he refused to come to Turkey because of writers and journalists in prison.

American writer Paul Auster said in an interview last week with the daily Hürriyet that he refused to come to Turkey because of writers and journalists in prison.

U.S. novelist Paul Auster released a statement today following Turkish Prime Minister's comments on the author's earlier critism of freedom of speech in Turkey, New York Times reported.

The statement reads:

"Whatever the Prime Minister might think about the state of Israel, the fact is that free speech exists there and no writers or journalists are in jail. According to the latest numbers gathered by International PEN, there are nearly one hundred writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent publishers such as Ragip Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world. All countries are flawed and beset by myriad problems, Mr. Prime Minister, including my United States, including your Turkey, and it is my firm conviction that in order to improve conditions in our countries, in every country, the freedom to speak and publish without censorship or the threat of imprisonment is a sacred right for all men and women."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had derided American writer Paul Auster as "ignorant" and said the fact his criticism of Turkey was shared by the main opposition and some newspapers was "grave."

"Author Paul Auster gave an interview to a Turkish newspaper recently. He said he will not come to Turkey as he finds it anti-democratic and because of arrested journalists. Oh! We were much in need of you! What if you come or not?" Erdoğan said during a party meeting yesterday.

Recalling that Auster joined a book fair in 2010 in Israel where he described Israel as a "secular, democratic country," Erdoğan slammed the American writer for being unaware of the fact Israel was a non-secular state and had killed thousands of innocent people in the Gaza Strip. "I am sure Kılıçdaroğlu and Auster will join together for this year’s book fair in Israel," he added.


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Tomas Giovanni

2/7/2012 4:36:08 PM

I find it hilarious that the PM for Turkey becomes entangled in street talk such as the one with Auster; sounds like Erdogan is reverting back to the days when he was a school boy.


2/4/2012 4:56:03 AM

supporting a coup does not make the arrestments legitimate. Plus as you all know limiting freedom of speech does not means arresting people we also have to consider people who are fired only because of their speeches or forced to cencor themselves!!

jd pomerantz

2/3/2012 5:56:51 PM

Mr Sert: are you willing to say that freedom of speech in Turkey is just for Turks? Have you any proof for your assertion? If free speech excludes any group in society, the speech can't be said to be free.

ealsho@eartlink.net tango73

2/3/2012 5:32:37 PM

Not surprised. Erdogan is growing more and more schizophrenic and paranoid. The facts are there: writers or journalists are in jail.

Vincenzo Balatoni

2/3/2012 6:05:54 AM

Lt's hope that no one is terribly shocked as a result of Auster's praise of Israel and condemnation of Turkey. Auster has been very clear on his continuous and unconditional support for Israel. Erdogan is right, who cares if he visits Turkey ?

John Sandlar

2/2/2012 10:16:09 PM

The point is that, notwithstanding the extremists existing in Israel, there is still freedom of speech, regardless of Mr Erdogan wishfull thinking. No arab is in jail in Israel because he spoke or wrote anything the Prime Minister doesn't like.

Güney Yogurtcu

2/2/2012 9:39:27 PM

With all due respect Mr.Stevens according to the to constitution of 1923 the turkish republic was founded as a secular state as well as it is now.Freedom of speech can be very limited by share holders or Investors who replace journalists in usa. 1-1

Ali Sert

2/2/2012 7:00:38 PM

Dear moderators why are my comment are not aproved , while on the other hand i see morre radical even racist comments by europans wich are aproved , dont understand youre standarts,. can u plz tell me why this is ?

Ali Sert

2/2/2012 6:49:47 PM

Yeah sure , freedom of speech excist in Israel , JUST for the jews !!

american american

2/2/2012 5:45:51 PM

bad news kismet...the turkish media does just that! anyone who tries to do differently gets locked up. as someone who has lived both in israel AND turkey, israeli arabs and journalists are treated much better than turkish minorities and journalists
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