ANKARA - Hurriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 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.
Criticizing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and the newspapers for giving credit to Auster’s statements, Erdoğan asked, “Will Turkey lose altitude if you don’t come?”
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.
Erdoğan dismissed mounting international criticism over press freedom in Turkey as a “smear campaign” and insisted the judiciary acted independently. He maintained that some of the journalists currently in jail were involved in violent activities and were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).