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There should be no thought crimes in Turkey and no one should be behind bars for what she or he thinks or says, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey has said, expressing Washington’s concerns about the deteriorating freedom of expression in Turkey. 

“I continue to believe that it’s one of the fundamental areas where Turkey needs to pay attention if it’s to emerge absolutely where Turks want the country emerge: as a hundred-percent, first-class, world-standard democracy,” Ambassador Francis Ricciardone told Ankara bureau chiefs yesterday. 

Ricciardone was subjected to a harsh reaction from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he openly criticized the government’s stance on press freedom. Erdoğan called the ambassador a “rookie,” and criticized him for remaining under the influence of certain circles. 

“On freedom of expression, my own views and advocacy for that have not diminished,” he said. “I hope you don’t feel they have diminished or changed.”

Freedom of expression remains an issue between Turkey and the U.S., and it was raised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her talks with Turkish officials over the weekend, Ricciardone said. 
“The secretary of state deeply cares about it. I can tell you she did it in a very respectful, supportive and positive way, but she spoke very much from the heart and very clearly. She believes that this something very important to Turkey and to Turks,” he said. 

The concern is not limited to the freedom of expression, Ricciardone said, but also extends to access to justice. 

“I have heard Turkish leaders in the government and in the opposition expressing their concerns about what needs to be done in terms of access to justice,” he said. 

The Turkish government is frequently criticized by foreign governments and media for the deteriorated freedom of the media and the growing number of journalists and academics held under arrest.

August/15/2012

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illawarrior hill

8/26/2012 7:47:44 AM

@ Steve Bruce - Even in countries that purport to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the reality is that these freedoms are curtailed in many ways. Some things are prohibited as being racist hate crimes, some things are restricted by laws of libel and defammation, some things are prohibited by various other laws as well as social and moral codes of conduct. In 2009 in Houston Texas a blogger was jailed for comments about Anna Nicole Smith - google it. This is not a one off.

Steve Bruce

8/17/2012 5:15:01 PM

Is there freedom of speech and the press in America? Yes. Is the media conrolled by special interst groups? Without a doubt! When you are debating the freedoms of the media,the argument about who contols them.is a different sunject, The fact is people dont go to jail for saying or writting anything. Everyone is protcted by the constitution

George Smily

8/17/2012 4:33:40 PM

@Tara Mcglothun, At issue is the responce to the US Ambasadors outburst about Turkish Internal Policies, that at no time endangers the National Interrest of the U.S. of A., the Lobbyes in Wash. D.C. and Special Interest Groups in the Halls of Power do more Damage to the country than any other outside Nation can do. Ambasadors duty is to be Eyes, Ears and the Mouthpice of their Respective Governments. Acting like the Old Roman Empire Pro-Consul is not in their Job Description, keep smiling!

mara mcglothin

8/17/2012 3:26:30 PM

GEROGE SMILY So what happens when an Ambassador's "protection" of his country's interests "antangonizes" the host government. Always pointing the finger at what others do wrong to make yourselves feel better?

George Smily

8/17/2012 5:45:30 AM

Dear US Ambasador, I fully subscribe to that portion of your statement, wherein you say;....that no one should be behind bars for "What she or he thinks or says" Dear Ambasador, Sir could you also convey the same thoughts to Switzerland, ghat jails people for denaying so called"Genocide"claims and France is just about to introduce such a Motion. @MARA MCGLOTHIN Ambasadors are there to represent and safeguard the interests of their Governments and not to antagonize the host country, O.K.?

George Smily

8/17/2012 4:44:22 AM

@Mark Tak,Please permit me to add one more statement to your posting; The US press is subject to to almost total control of the "Special Interest" Groups, as is The US Congress and Senate, are under constant pressure of the Special Interest Lobys. Thank you.

mara mcglothin

8/16/2012 3:58:33 PM

MARK TAMER Have either of you ever even been in the USA? Always pointing the finger at others to make yourselves feel better? Every country has their own interests. Wasn't Erdogan accepting prizes from Khaddafi and poising for photo ops with Assad just last year? Are they not at the table with Iran at this very minute BLUE What exactly do you think an ambassador is supposed to do? cut ribbons and attend ceremonies?

mara mcglothin

8/16/2012 3:50:12 PM

NAGEYEC What a bunch of crap! I can say what I like about anyone I want. In the USA we have a saying "You can yell fire in a crowded theater, but you must be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions, if someone is killed in the panic of a false alarm" I can say that I love hAMAS AND SEND THEM MONEY AND NOT A THING WILL HAPPEN TO ME. We are still land of the free home of the brave.

Blue Dotterel

8/16/2012 6:30:10 AM

American ambassadors need to stop intefering in the internal affairs of other nations. The AKP should show this man the door.

Mark Tak

8/16/2012 6:25:30 AM

US has no position to critisize Turkey on that, they have full control of their own press here , they wont even show dead soldiers coming home from war, and lie all the time to American people, like WMDs and 9-11 , US do not have freedom of press it has propoganda press,
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