Turkey’s US ambassador slams Washington Post article criticizing media detentions

Turkey’s US ambassador slams Washington Post article criticizing media detentions

Turkey’s US ambassador slams Washington Post article criticizing media detentions

Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kılıç. AA Photo

Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kılıç has penned a letter to U.S. daily The Washington Post to slam an article that criticized recent media operations in Turkey as a threat to democracy.

“The Dec. 22 editorial titled ‘A fool’s errand’ confused a legitimate criminal investigation in Turkey with the suppression of free speech,” Kılıç said to begin his letter to the editors published in the op-ed section of the American newspaper on Dec. 24.

“Without a full examination of the charges or the activities of those detained, it is irresponsible to assume that the ongoing investigation was instigated for political purposes,” he said in the article titled “Turkey’s reinforced democracy.”

“Turkish democracy deserves the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Turkish Police arrested over two dozen people on Dec. 14, including the editor-in-chief of daily Zaman and other media figures, in lightning raids on supporters of U.S.-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has gone from being President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ally to his arch enemy in recent years.

The article, written by the editorial board of The Washington Post on Dec. 22, accused the mass detentions targeting the media of being a political tool of Erdoğan’s to crackdown on his critics and rivals.

“The journalists’ arrests are just the most recent attempt by Mr. Erdoğan to wipe out the influence that Mr. Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, still commands in Turkey,” the article read.

“Mr. Erdoğan appears to be hurtling toward the kind of autocracy evident today in Russia,” it further said.

However, Kılıç defended the government, saying, “Turkey has reinforced human rights and freedom of expression and has made significant progress in promoting democratization and transforming the judicial system in line with that of the European Union member countries to ensure fair and speedy trials.”

He also echoed the Turkish government’s rhetoric that insists the suspects in the operations are not being tried for their journalism activities, but rather that they were “questioned because of complaints by a religious group that suggest a campaign against it by the media and police, based on slander and the forgery of evidence.”

“All criminal investigations are confidential, but it goes without saying that no one, including journalists, can be above the law in a democracy. Presuming that someone is innocent by virtue of their profession, despite evidence or accusations to the contrary, is an injustice,” he said.