White House hits Turkey over vote ‘intimidation’
The White House on Monday voiced displeasure at the “intimidation” of Turkish journalists during an election that bolstered the already strong hand of its longtime President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Just weeks before President Barack Obama meets Erdogan in Turkey, spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House was “deeply concerned that media outlets and individual journalists critical of the government were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign.”
Sunday’s election delivered a clear victory to Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), a dramatic turnaround after it lost its parliamentary majority in June.
“We have both publicly and privately raised our concerns about freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Turkey,” said Earnest.
“We continue to urge Turkish authorities to uphold universal democratic values.”
Earlier Monday the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a damning report on the vote, which it described as marred by a media crackdown, violence and other security issues.
Concerns over media freedoms were already running high in the run-up to the poll after riot police last week stormed the Ankara and Istanbul offices of two television stations critical of the Turkish strongman.
The elections were also held against a backdrop of a military campaign against Kurdish rebels in the southeast of Turkey and in northern Iraq after attacks on security forces by the militants.