US state Department spokesman John Kirby
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby has named a recent court decision to appoint a board of trustees to Zaman media group “troubling,” as the European Union also criticized Turkey for media freedom.
“We see this as the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” Kirby said March 4 while responding to a question on the court decision earlier in the day.
“In the wake of moves earlier this week by government-appointed trustees to shutter media outlets owned by the Koza İpek Holding Company and the filing of insult charges against journalists representing other outlets, we call on the Turkish government to ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under the law,” he said.
“Court-ordered supervision of a media company’s finances and operations should not prompt changes to the newsroom or editorial policy. As Turkey’s friend and NATO ally – and we do count ourself as a friend of Turkey and we certainly are a NATO ally – we urge Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in their own constitution, including freedom of speech and especially freedom of the press. In a democratic society, as I’ve said many, many times, critical opinions should be encouraged, not silenced,” Kirby said.
“The EU is following closely the reports about yesterday's developments related to Feza Media Group, including Zaman newspaper, and the ensuing police action,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement on March 5.
“The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to respect and promote high democratic standards and practices, including freedom of the media,” the statement read.
“Free, diverse and independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas, and by ensuring transparency and accountability,” it said.
“Any country, and in particular those negotiating EU accession, needs to guarantee fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, and due judicial process, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”
Police dispersed supporters of Zaman group, who gathered in front of the headquarters on March 4 and 5.