Turkish PM downplays Europe’s ‘red line’ on press freedom after detentions
ANKARAPrime Minister Binali Yıldırım has downplayed Europe’s “red line” on press freedom and rejected remarks by the head of the European Parliament over the detention of the top staff of daily Cumhuriyet on terror charges.
“Brother, we don’t care about your red line. It’s the people who draw the red line. What importance does your line have?” Yıldırım told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a speech in parliament on Nov. 1.
“Turkey is not a country to be brought in line with salvoes and threats. Turkey gets its power from the people and will be held accountable by the people,” Yıldırım added.
The United States and European Union both voiced concern about the move in Turkey, while European Parliament President Martin Schulz wrote on Twitter that the detentions marked the crossing of “yet another red line” against freedom of expression in the country.
“The detention of [editor] Murat Sabuncu and other Cumhuriyet journalists is yet another red-line crossed against freedom of expression in Turkey,” Schulz said.
Yıldırım accused Europeans of applying double standards on freedoms, saying they allowed propaganda by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the European Parliament.
“We have no problem with press freedom. This is what we can’t agree with our European friends. They always bring up press freedom when we take steps in our fight against terrorism,” he said, adding that they should allow the judiciary to perform its duty without interference.
Police detained the editors and top staff of daily Cumhuriyet, a pillar of the country’s secularist establishment, on Oct. 31, on accusations that the newspaper’s coverage had helped precipitate a failed military coup in July.
Journalists at the paper were suspected of seeking to precipitate the coup through “subliminal messages” in their columns before it happened, the state-run Anadolu Agency said. The suspects were charged with “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] and the PKK.”