WASHINGTON (Today’s Zaman)–US Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby has said that there are actions that Turkey is taking that the US feels do not comport with the core values mentioned in its constitution.
Kirby was grilled by journalists at a daily press briefing on Tuesday on where the US stands on the latest anti-democratic developments in Turkey, including imprisoning journalists and the recent attacks on media organizations by pro-government individuals.
Kirby said they have seen the reports about the attacks against media organizations and have called on Turkey to respect media freedoms and due process protections that are enshrined in the constitution. “They are key elements in every healthy democracy. We’re concerned by reports that the protests against the Hurriyet Daily were encouraged by members of the Justice and Development Party. Elected officials must be careful not to appear to encourage violence against media outlets,” Kirby said.
The Hurriyet daily headquarters were attacked twice this week after it reported on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent televised interview in which he had said Turkey would not be facing a chaotic environment and terrorism if a political party had received 400 seats in Parliament in the last election. Erdogan claimed the remarks were taken out of context. About 200 AK Party supporters stormed Hurriyet’s Istanbul headquarters on Sunday and damaged the building. A second attack on the newspaper came on Tuesday night.
When asked whether the US is worried over the crackdown on the media in Turkey as a Vice reporter is still being held in custody for more than two weeks and another foreign journalist is under detention, Kirby said: “We have consistent concerns about press freedoms around the world. And as I just said, we’ve expressed our concerns about this most recent incident against Hurriyet.”
He added that the “quality of Turkey’s democracy matters” to the US and the US administration expects “Turkish authorities to uphold Turkey’s core values, democratic foundations, and universally recognized fundamental freedoms.”
On the attack against Hurriyet, Kirby said the US is making its points “candidly and openly” in its diplomatic conversations with Turkish authorities.
When asked to grade the quality of Turkish democracy, Kirby said he is not in a position to judge. After persistently asked by a reporter to grade Turkish democracy, Kirby then said, “There are actions that they are taking which in our view don’t comport with their own core values as mentioned in their own constitution.”