U.S. Lawmakers Express Concern over Turkey’s Assault on Press Freedom

U.S. Lawmakers Express Concern over Turkey’s Assault on Press Freedom –

The Tower – Eighty-nine members of the United States House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, expressing that they are “deeply concerned” about Turkish restrictions on the freedom of the press.  “A strong democracy,” the letter reads, “requires both tolerance and transparency in order to thrive, but this decision by the Turkish government to intimidate, arrest, and smother voices opposed to the government is a threat to the very democratic principles that Turkey claims to hold dear.” The lawmakers specifically condemned raids that occurred last December, when journalists at media outlets with ties to Fethullah Gulen were arrested. Gulen is an Islamic scholar based in the United States, who is critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The letter went on to condemn the government’s regulation of Twitter and other websites. On Thursday, the Turkish government passed further restrictive legislation: a Turkish parliamentary commission granted authority to the prime minister or any government minister to block any website without a court order.

In the immediate aftermath of last December’s raid, several U.S. lawmakers wrote lettersto Secretary of State Kerry expressing their concern and the European Union passed a resolution of condemnation. In other acts of media repression, Turkish police raided the newspaper Cumhuriyet’s printing plant in January before allowing the distribution of the day’s edition. Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into Cumhuriyet for republishing sections from the January 14 edition of Charlie Hebdo. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has stated that that the freedom of the press is not the “freedom to insult.” Also last month, in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, a court ruled in favor of blocking web pages featuring the cover of an edition of Charlie Hebdo

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