US State Department raises concerns over free speech in Turkey

US State Department raises concerns over free speech in Turkey

US State Department raises concerns over free speech in Turkey

Gül (R) and Dündar are seen as they wait for the court order.

The United States State department has raised concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey in a Nov. 27 statement on the arrest of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül.

“We are troubled by the pre-trial arrest yesterday of senior editors of the respected Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet,” read the statement.

The investigation, criminal charges, and arrest raise serious concerns about the Turkish government’s commitment to the fundamental principle of media freedom,” it said.

The two journalists were arrested Nov. 26 on charges of collecting and revealing secret documents for espionage and supporting an armed terrorist organization (but not being a member) as the accusations were based on reports in Cumhuriyet regarding Syria-bound trucks sent by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT).

Dündar and Gül denied the charges or any links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), a term used by prosecutors to define the followers of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Islamic scholar, who have created a parallel structure within the state, according to the government.

“These events are only the latest in a series of judicial and law enforcement actions taken under questionable circumstances against Turkish media outlets critical of the government,” the U.S. State Department statement read.

“We call on Turkish authorities to ensure that all individuals and organizations – including but not limited to the media – are free to voice a full range of opinions and criticism, in accordance with Turkey’s constitutional guarantees of media freedom and freedom of expression. This will ultimately strengthen Turkey’s democracy,” it said.