White House hits Turkey over vote 'intimidation'
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
White House spokesman Josh Earnest speaks to reporters at the briefing room of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueThe White House on Nov 2 voiced displeasure at the "intimidation" of Turkish journalists during an election that bolstered the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Just weeks before President Barack Obama meets his counterpart Erdoğan in Turkey, spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House was "deeply concerned that media outlets and individual journalists critical of the government were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign."
The Nov 1 snap elections delivered a clear victory to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a dramatic turnaround after it lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 general elections.
"We have both publicly and privately raised our concerns about freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Turkey," said Earnest.
"We continue to urge Turkish authorities to uphold universal democratic values."
Earlier on Nov 2, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a critical report on the vote, which it described as marred by a media crackdown, violence and other security issues.
The European Union said the vote showed the "strong commitment" of Turks to democracy, but also said it would be attentive to the OSCE's findings.
Concerns over media freedoms were already running high in the run-up to the poll after riot police last week stormed the Ankara and Istanbul offices of two television stations critical of the AKP and President Erdoğan.
The elections were also held against a backdrop of a military campaign against outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in the southeast of Turkey and in northern Iraq after attacks on security forces by the militants.