Turkey's Erdoğan slams foreign envoys for attending journalists' trial
ISTANBULTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has severely criticized a group of Western diplomats who attended the trial of two daily Cumhuriyet journalists on March 25.
“Yesterday there was a hearing of a known journalist,” Erdoğan said in a speech on March 26 in Istanbul, referring to Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar. Dündar was on trial on spying charges on March 25 along with his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül.
“The situation ıf those who attended this hearing is very important,” said Erdoğan. “The consuls general in Istanbul come to the courthouse. Who are you, what are you doing there?”
The president said there should be “diplomatic propriety.”
"This is not your country, this is Turkey," Erdoğan said, adding that diplomats can operate within the boundaries of missions and adding: "Elsewhere is subject to permission."
Journalists and diplomats from several countries attended the hearing including Leigh Turner, the British Consul-General in Istanbul who shared images from outside court and messages of support for the journalists on Twitter.
Erdoğan accused foreign envoys of making a "show of strength."
“We all see who those always talk about democracy, human rights, freedom side with when officials elected with public support face off with coup plotters,” he added.
Dündar and Gül, who were released pending trial on Feb. 26 after a decision by the Constitutional Court, are charged with espionage and threatening state security in stories published in Cumhuriyet about National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks allegedly transporting weapons to rebel groups in Syria.
The court said the journalists’ 92-day imprisonment over charges of terrorism was a “violation of rights.”
President Erdoğan and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have harshly criticized the top court, which they claim “exceeded its jurisdiction.”
Erdoğan said earlier that he “did not respect the Constitutional Court ruling.”
The court on March 25 accepted the president and Turkey's intelligence agency as civil plaintiffs in the case.
Within two hours of the start of the proceedings the judge ordered the trial to be held behind closed doors, granting a request by the prosecution which cited "national security" concerns.
The decision was met with cries of dismay inside the court. Several opposition lawmakers refused to leave, prompting the judge to adjourn the trial until April 1.