Turkey criticizes US ambassador on press freedoms

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone

From Suzan Fraser, the AP:  The newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Turkey drew criticism from the government Thursday for comments about the media freedoms in Turkey following the detention of a dissident journalist.

Ambassador Francis Ricciardone told Turkish reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. was trying to "make sense" of Turkey’s stated support for press freedoms and the detention of journalists.

He spoke a day after police raided an anti-government news website and detained its owner, Soner Yalcin, and three colleagues for questioning over links to an alleged plot to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Islamic-inspired government. Prosecutors were questioning the four Thursday to decide whether to press charges.

On Wednesday, some members of Erdogan’s party accused the ambassador of interfering in Turkey’s internal affairs, an argument repeated by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"We believe that it is not right for an ambassador to pass judgment over an ongoing criminal investigation," the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Davutoglu as saying during a visit to Nepal. "As with any other democratic country, the judiciary is independent in Turkey. …"

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington was standing by Ricciardone’s statement.

"We do have ongoing concerns about trends regarding treatment of journalists within Turkey," he said. "We’ve raised that with the Turkish government, and we’ll be watching this case very closely."  (photo: AA/Hurriyet)

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