EU minister slams US Congress’ letter over freedom of speech in Turkey

EU minister slams US Congress’ letter over freedom of speech in Turkey

EU minister slams US Congress’ letter over freedom of speech in Turkey

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Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır has reacted against the letter sent by 89 U.S. Congressmen urging Turkey to respect freedom of speech and criticizing the fact that 28 journalists are currently in prison for their journalistic activities.  
“The letter does not give the names of the 28 journalists who are said to be in prison. Someone else says 35, another says 20. Is something like this possible? How will we find these 28 people?” Bozkır said late on Feb. 5, speaking at a press conference with Turkish journalists. 

He recalled Ankara’s earlier statements demanding the names of imprisoned journalists from international press associations that had slammed Turkey for jailing journalists, saying that “until now, nobody has given any names.”

For example, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Platform for Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists (TGDP) have claimed that there are nearly 100 prisoned journalists in Turkey, but were only able to present a list of eleven journalists, Bozkır said. “And those names on the list were being tried not for what they published, but due to crimes such as terror or attacking the police, he added.

“It’s unfair to claim that there is no freedom of speech in Turkey,” he said. 

Eighty-nine members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry about Turkey’s crackdown on media organizations linked to the Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen on Feb. 5. 

“We are deeply concerned by the recent arrests in Turkey of members of the Turkish media.  A strong democracy requires both tolerance and transparency in order to thrive, but this decision by the Turkish government to intimidate, arrest, and smother voices opposed to the government is a threat to the very democratic principles that Turkey claims to hold dear,” the letter said. 

The members of the U.S. House of Representatives noted that Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor-in-chief of daily Zaman, and Hidayet Karaca, the CEO of Samanyolu Media Group, were arrested on Dec. 14, 2014. The letter described the charges against a total of 29 press and media personalities as “questionable,” recalling that allegations of corruption were levied at the “Erdoğan administration” a year prior to the arrests.