Friday, April 01, 2016

US: It's technical issue we can't take questions w/Turkish officials

DPB #54
My Qs & As w/ Briefer: Elizabeth Trudeau, Director, Office of Press Relations

Turkish Bodyguards attacking protestors & journalists at Brookings
MS TRUDEAU:  Turkey.
QUESTION:  (Laughter.)  Yes.  First of all, have you seen yesterday footages went viral about the Turkish security officials --
MS TRUDEAU:  I have.
QUESTION:  -- or guards who were basically attacking protesters as well as journalists?
MS TRUDEAU:  So we have seen reports of the confrontations between protesters and Turkish security personnel at the Brookings Institution yesterday.  As we have stated many times, we respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.  Violence against peaceful protesters is totally unacceptable.

QUESTION:  So as I learned today, apparently it is the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service was also there.
MS TRUDEAU:  It was actually Secret Service.
QUESTION:  It was?  I was told by there that it was --
MS TRUDEAU:  No, it’s Secret Service, so we would refer you there for specific details on that incident.

US refuses to comment on Brookings's censoring journalists
QUESTION:  Okay.  You talk about the freedom of expression.  Another part of yesterday’s story was at Brookings Institution.  After President Erdogan spoke, moderator Ambassador Martin Indyk said that we are not going to take questions from the journalists, basically blocking a journalist’s right to ask questions.  Do you have any comment?  Is this --
MS TRUDEAU:  I’m going to refer you to Brookings as that was a private event.
QUESTION:  Okay.  This does not disturb you that a journalist’s right has been blocked?
MS TRUDEAU:  I’m not – I – if you’re asking me about what happened at a press event at a private institution, I’m going to refer you to Brookings to speak to that.  I’m not sure if they’ve put out a statement on that.

Why US & Turkish officials refuse taking questions from press?
QUESTION:  Final question:  A lot of Turkish officials are here, and Monday, I believe, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu met with the Secretary Kerry.  It has been over two and half years since the November 2013, last time Foreign Minister Davutoglu was here, that Turkish and American officials took questions.  Is there a new policy that you are not going to take questions from the press?
MS TRUDEAU:  No.  Next.
QUESTION:  How long this going to go?  I mean, is there a limit if the Turkish --
MS TRUDEAU:  No.  I’ll be honest – a lot of this, Ilhan, is really based on logistics.  There is no policy that U.S. and Turkish officials will not take questions from the press.  In fact, since I stand up here and my colleagues do, taking questions from Turkish journalists, I think that that question --
QUESTION:  No, no, I am talking about the Turkish officials --
MS TRUDEAU:  Officials – there is no policy.
QUESTION:  -- and American officials.
MS TRUDEAU:  There is no policy on them.
QUESTION:  How do you decide?  Was it --
MS TRUDEAU:  A lot of it’s timing, logistics, what happens, if we have multiple back-to-back bilats, if we have multiple meetings.  It’s a technical question, but there is absolutely no policy.
QUESTION:  If this goes on another 20 years, should we just expect that this is technical questions?
MS TRUDEAU:  You’re asking me not only a hypothetical but what happens in the next 20 years.  This is something – it’s – we understand, and we fully support transparency.  We stand up here every day – except yesterday – answering your questions on that.  But no, there is no policy.  Okay?
QUESTION:  And we are really grateful; you have been very kind to answer all of our questions.  The problem is about 80 million’s right now that this is very unusual.  We have been here for over how many years.  Turkish officials always take questions, and now we are basically block from asking questions to both of you, Turks and the Americans together.
MS TRUDEAU:  There is no policy.  Okay?

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