Turkish president says Obama spoke behind his back on press freedom
April 3, Ankara: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused U.S. counterpart Barack Obama of going behind his back for criticizing Turkey's press freedom record and linked it to efforts to "divide" Turkey, local media reported.
Obama said on Friday after meeting Erdogan on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Washington that he was troubled by curbs on the press in Turkey and said he had urged Erdogan not to repress democratic debate in his country.
Turkey has drawn international condemnation for charging two journalists with treason for publishing footage that purportedly showed the intelligence agency shipping truckloads of weapons to opposition fighters in Syria in early 2014. Can Dundar and Erdem Gul of Cumhuriyet face life in prison, Reuters news agency reported.
"I was saddened to hear that statement made behind my back. During my talk with Obama, those issues did not come up," Erdogan told reporters, according to Hurriyet daily. He returned to Turkey after a five-day trip to Washington on Sunday.
Turkey has seized control of opposition newspapers and TV channels and cut the satellite feed of a pro-Kurdish channel, accusing them of terrorism-related activities. Erdogan has personally brought more than 1,800 criminal suits against individuals, including journalists and children, for insulting him since becoming president in 2014.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 13 journalists are in jail for their coverage and described a "massive crackdown" that includes self-censorship and harassment of media-business owners.
The Oslo Times