Wednesday, July 27, 2016

US says "committed to defend freedom of the press" shies away making specific comments re jailed journalists in Turkey

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release
For your reference, please find attached an indexed DPB, which will be available here.  

DPB #131
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2016
Briefer: Elizabeth Trudeau, Director, Office of Press Relations 

My Qs & As w/State Dept Spox Trudeau

QUESTION:  Turkey?
QUESTION:  Thank you.  My first question is last week U.S. Government stated that it received documents from Turkey regarding extradition process for Fethullah Gulen, and you were going to take a look whether this can be qualified as an extradition request.  Are you – have you made that decision yet?
MS TRUDEAU:  I have no update on that.  As we mentioned last week and I believe we touched on this week too, we have received documents.  We continue to review them.  So I have no update on that.

QUESTION:  The Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu today stated that they have – even though they already submitted necessary documents to U.S. Government, they have not responded that yet.  Do you have any particular response to that comment?
MS TRUDEAU:  I wouldn’t.  I’d let the foreign minister’s comments stand.  But I would say that as we’ve said, the extradition process is a formal process, it’s a legal process, it’s a technical process, it’s governed by the extradition treaty that both our governments signed.  So we’re going to let that process play out.

QUESTION:  Okay, and another question.  After the coup – I haven’t been able to ask this question.  Yesterday, there is a new arrest warrant for 42 journalists, and there are more.  These 42 journalists only just yesterday numbers.  And for example, there are 19 journalists, arrest warrants for 19 journalists in Antalya, south city, and there are other cities similar warrants.  Are you concerned that after the coup attempt government is moving to basically go after the critical voices and news journalists along with the coup plotters or allegedly coup plotters?
MS TRUDEAU:  Well, I’d say what we’ve said repeatedly:  In a democratic society, critical voices need to be encouraged; they don’t need to be silenced.  We have said many times, not just in relation to Turkey but countries around the world, that democracies become stronger when they let voices from diverse points of view speak. 
I’d note, and the President has spoken to this himself, we’ve conveyed both publicly and in private conversations with our Turkish friends and allies the importance of protecting freedom of the press.  We are committed to defend freedom of the press, media freedom, due process, freedom of assembly everywhere in the world.

QUESTION:  So in terms of in this context, are you concerned with this ongoing campaign of arrests for Turkish journalists?
MS TRUDEAU:  So what I would say is that we have actually spoken to this.  The President spoke to this and we’ll let his comments stand.

QUESTION:  The Travel Warning notes that the voluntary departure of relatives of those working for U.S. embassy and consulate personnel has been authorized.
MS TRUDEAU:  Mm-hmm.
QUESTION:  What has changed in the last several days, since it does seem that, for better or worse, President Erdogan has a firm grip on power?  Why is it not safe for the relatives to stay?
MS TRUDEAU:  Okay, so it’s important to differentiate on this.  This is an authorized departure, so this is an authorized departure.  I think many of you saw the Travel Warning that went out.  It’s an authorized departure for our embassy in Ankara as well as our consulate in Istanbul for the family members of U.S. personnel stationed there.  This is a precautionary measure.  It does follow the July 15th attempted coup.  We continue to monitor the security developments there, and as we have information, of course, as we are obligated to do, we will share that with the American public.  But again, this is an abundance of caution, and again, this is optional.  So this is authorized; this is not ordered.

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