US voices concern over media freedoms in Turkey, urges ‘free, fair, credible’ elections
NEW YORK – Doğan News AgencyState Department Spokesperson John Kirby has called on Turkey to respect media freedoms and due process, while adding the United States wanted to see “free, fair, credible” elections.
“We’re concerned by the increasing number of investigations into media outlets for criticism of the government and for accusations of allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda. We’re also concerned by the aggressive use of judicial inquiries to curb free speech,” Kirby said at a press conference in Washington, while responding to a question on frequent crackdowns on Turkish press by the government.
“We call on Turkey, as we have in the past, to respect the media freedoms and due process protections that are enshrined in the Turkish constitution itself. And obviously, we want to see free, fair, credible elections there,” Kirby said.
Attacks against free media have been increasingly common in Turkey, the latest examples of which were a violent protest in front of the Hürriyet daily headquarters, the attack against Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, and police violence against a Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist.
On Sept. 6, a group of around 150 pro-government protesters led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP Abdurrahim Boynukalın pelted Hürriyet’s door with rocks to force their way into the building while also attacking the newspaper’s security personnel.
The “protest” was repeated less than 48-hours later by a similar club-swinging group.
Approximately a week later, on Sept. 15, Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into the Doğan Media Group, which owns dailies Hürriyet, Hürriyet Daily News and Radikal, for “terrorist propaganda,” based on a front-page story by pro-government tabloid Güneş.
Early on Oct.1, Hürriyet columnist and CNNTürk presenter Ahmet Hakan was injured in an assault in front of his home. It was later revealed that three of the four assailants were members of the AKP. The party later expelled the attackers.
Later, on Oct. 5, video footage displayed a plainclothes police officer pressing his gun to the head of a DİHA reporter in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır for filming police operations.
Finally, seven TV channels, including a children’s station, that belong to companies with close relations to the Gülen movement, have been removed from one of Turkey’s leading satellite networks and TV operators due to “legal obligations.”