Obama raises press freedom concerns against Erdoğan
U.S. President Barack Obama raised April 1 criticism over press freedom in Turkey, saying that he had expressed these sentiments directly to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"It's no secret that there are some trends within Turkey that I have been troubled with," Obama said, when asked whether he considers the Turkish leader an authoritarian.
"I think the approach they have been taking toward the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling."
Obama said he had expressed these sentiments to Erdoğan "directly."
The U.S. President also said said Turkey's cooperation with his country had been critical on a number of international issues despite disagreements between the two countries.
"(Erdoğan) came into office with a promise of democracy, and Turkey has historically been a country in which deep Islamic faith has lived side by side with modernity and an increasing openness. And that's the legacy that he should pursue, rather than a strategy that involves repression of information and shutting down democratic debate," he said.
The pair met at the White House on March 31 for talks away from the cameras.
Erdoğan was on a trip to Washington to take part in a major nuclear security summit with other world leaders.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State also voiced concern over the confrontation between protesters and Turkish security personnel on March 31 ahead of Erdoğan's speech at the Brookings Institution, calling it "unacceptable."
"As we have stated many times, we respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. Violence against peaceful protesters is totally unacceptable," deputy spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said at the daily press briefing on April 1.
However, a Turkish Presidency official told Hürriyet that the protesters first insulted the security personnel, adding that it would be same if protesters came that close to Obama, Putin or another president.