DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 34
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2016
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
Briefer: Mark Toner, Spokesperson
QUESTION: So don’t look on Greece. Do you have any comment on Mr. Erdogan’s new adventure? He said he had no respect for a decision by Turkey’s top court to release two journalists held on charges of revealing state secrets. You make a comment on this?
MR TONER: You’re talking about the reports that he’s going to --
QUESTION: He said he’s – he has no respect for the decision by a Turkish top court --
MR TONER: Oh, you’re about – yeah, the Cumhuriyet --
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
MR TONER: The case where – well --
QUESTION: About the case of Cumhuriyet. You want to make a comment?
US: Welcomed release of Turkish journalists
MR TONER: I mean, we welcomed, frankly, the court ruling that ended their pretrial imprisonment of these two – well, one was the editor-in-chief, the other was a bureau chief. And we’re going to continue to follow their case closely. I mean, this is a core issue for us, freedom of the press, and we believe it’s a core value for Turks, for Turkish society, for Turkish democracy. And it is, in fact, enshrined in the Turkish constitution.
US: Not Characterize Whether Erdogan is trampling on Turkish constitution...
QUESTION: Mark, do you think that he is trampling on the constitution? There are a lot of accusations in Turkey. Do you want to comment on this?
MR TONER: I’m not going to characterize whether he’s trampling on the Turkish constitution. I’ll just stay where I was, Michael, and just say very strongly that we’re always concerned when any government attempts to muzzle or intimidate freedom of speech.
US avoids calling Erdogan ‘ally’
QUESTION: You always tell us here that Turkey is an ally of the United States. But you never tell us that Mr. Erdogan is an ally of the United States.
MR TONER: Of Mr. --
QUESTION: Mr. Erdogan.
MR TONER: Erdogan.
QUESTION: You always use the word “Turkey,” Turkey is your ally. You never say about Mr. Erdogan. Do you think that Mr. Erdogan is a real ally of your country?
MR TONER: We work with Turkey, with the Turkish Government, with the leaders of Turkey on a variety of issues. They are a NATO ally. We don’t agree on every issue, clearly, but we agree on a lot of things. We appreciate Turkey’s strong support in the fight against Daesh and we’re going to continue to work with Turkey.
US urges Erdogan to abide with court (Turkish Supreme Court) rulings
QUESTION: So can we safely say that U.S. urges the Turkish leaders to respect the court decision?
MR TONER: Well, I think so. I mean, I – not exactly sure I’m going to endorse what you’re putting in my mouth to say, but I think you can infer from my comments that we believe this is a freedom of speech issue and we supported the pretrial – their release from pretrial detention.