December 16, 2014

White House concerned over arrest of Turkish journalists

The White House has expressed concerns over the arrest of Turkish journalists, including Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, and called on Ankara to conduct investigations in a manner consistent with the rule of law.

"We noted with concern the arrests of a number of journalists and other members of the media over the weekend," White House National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh said in a statement on Monday. He added that Washington has long maintained that freedom of the press is an essential element in all healthy, successful democracies.

"We urge the Turkish authorities to conduct investigations quickly, transparently, and in a manner consistent with the rule of law," the statement said.

Media in Turkey have been facing an unprecedented crackdown as the executives of two of the country's leading media outlets have been in custody since Sunday and are being questioned as part of a government-orchestrated police operation that has dealt a heavy blow to freedom of the press.

Dumanlı, Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca and other journalists, scriptwriters, columnists and producers were detained in a sweeping operation on Sunday.

The US also voiced concern over the weekend, urging the Turkish government to protect media freedom and other core values.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Sunday that the media outlets that have been critical of the Turkish government seem to be the targets of the actions by the Turkish law enforcement agencies.

"Media freedom, due process, and judicial independence are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined in the Turkish constitution," Psaki said in a written statement. "As Turkey's friend and ally, we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate these core values and Turkey's own democratic foundations," the statement continued.

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 December 2014, Tuesday