Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Q and A w/Patrick Ventrell Acting Deputy Spokesperson Daily Press Briefing Washington, DC April 23, 2013

My Q and A w/
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 23, 2013

QUESTION: I have two Turkey-related questions.
QUESTION: One is that last week, pianist – Turkish pianist Fazil Say was convicted over a tweet, and actually this was – made reference into Human Rights Report that was released by Secretary of State Kerry last Friday. My specific question is --
MR. VENTRELL: Is this the pianist, Fazil?
MR. VENTRELL: Okay, yeah.
QUESTION: My specific question is that this was asked to U.S. Ambassador in Ankara Ricciardone, and Ambassador’s quote is: “Pianist hit the wrong key.” And he has not clarified his position and this was widely understood as Ambassador was making joke of this freedom of expression sentence in Turkey. Do you – what’s your position? Are you supporting your Ambassador in --
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I haven’t seen the context of the Ambassador or the Embassy’s reaction, but let me be clear. We’ve been 100 percent clear about our concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey. We’re concerned by any attempt to punish individuals for practicing their right to free speech, which of course is an internationally recognized right. So we do not believe such laws are consistent with core human rights practices. And while we do condemn hateful speech, we deplore speech that deliberately denigrates people of any religion. At the same time, we’re strong supporters of the right of freedom of expression. So we believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. They’re crucial to the health of any democracy.
QUESTION: So it’s clear that you are – you don’t agree with joking about this freedom issue when he’s asked about it?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I hadn’t seen the Embassy’s comments. I’m not sure if this is was something the Ambassador said or was on Twitter or one way or another. I’d have to check into it. But we’re very clear both from our mission in Turkey and here from the State Department about our concerns, and we make them clear when we do have concerns on freedom of expression regarding Turkey.
QUESTION: About the pipeline between the Turkey and KRG, it was reported yesterday – last week that it was signed between the Turkey and KRG about a month ago, a few weeks ago. Are you aware, have you been able to verify whether this pipeline is indeed signed between these two entities?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not aware. I can look into it after the briefing, but I’m not aware one way or another. Okay? Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:27 p.m.)