US Urges “Turkey to Uphold to Universal Values, Including Freedom of Speech””

Time: 12:54 p.m. CEST

State Department spokesman John Kirby used the world “troubling” for a recent court decision in Turkey to appoint trustees to Zaman media group and “urged Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values,” Hurryiet Daily News reports on March 5, 2016.

“We see this as the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” Kirby said March 4 while responding to a question on the court decision earlier in the day.

“In the wake of moves earlier this week by government-appointed trustees to shutter media outlets owned by the Koza İpek Holding Company and the filing of insult charges against journalists representing other outlets, we call on the Turkish government to ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under the law,” he said.

“Court-ordered supervision of a media company’s finances and operations should not prompt changes to the newsroom or editorial policy. As Turkey’s friend and NATO ally – and we do count our self as a friend of Turkey and we certainly are a NATO ally – we urge Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in their own constitution, including freedom of speech and especially freedom of the press. In a democratic society, as I’ve said many, many times, critical opinions should be encouraged, not silenced,” the spokesman said.

A trustee panel has been appointed to a media group reportedly linked to U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish president accuses of heading a “terrorist organization” aiming to topple the government.

The trustees entered the headquarter of Feza Gazatecilik Media group, which includes Turkish Cihan News Agency, Today’s Zaman and Zaman dailies, Aksiyon magazine along with Zaman Kitap – under police supervision. The Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace ordered Feza Gazetecilik, a media group that publishes dailies Zaman and Today’s Zaman, to be placed under a trustee panel on March 4 upon a directive by the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul, Hurryiet Daily News published.

State-run Anadolu Agency reported that employees of the daily gathered outside the Zaman office building in Istanbul’s Yenibosna neighborhood, along with a large group who rushed to the scene in support. Many gathered outside waved placards reading “Free Press Cannot Be Silenced.” Police dispersed the group later on March 4, adds Hurryiet Daily News. Reuters also reports about police intervention.


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