Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at mounting Western criticism of his clampdown on free speech and journalism in Turkey.
Speaking at a meeting of the Turkish Red Crescent in Ankara, Erdogan criticised the U.S. and Europe as being hypocritical in their condemnation of Turkey’s apparent lack of human rights.
“Those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights must first contemplate their own shame,” the Turkish leader said.
Middle East Online reports:
His comments came after US President Barack Obama said Turkey’s approach towards the media was taking it “down a path that would be very troubling.”
Erdogan’s government has been accused of increasing authoritarianism and muzzling critical media as well as lawmakers, academics, lawyers and NGOs.
Two journalists from the leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet face life in prison after being charged with revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of seeking to illicitly deliver arms to rebels in Syria.
Erdogan met with Obama in Washington last week but said the US president had not raised the issue in talks and added he was “saddened” that his American counterpart criticised him behind his back.
The president said he had pointed out in other meetings on his trip in Washington that there was press freedom in Turkey, saying that some publications had branded him a “thief” and a “killer” without being shut down.“Such insults and threats are not permitted in the West,” he claimed.
In a telephone conversation earlier, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he was unhappy about the raft of stories criticising Erdogan in German media in recent weeks.
Davutoglu complained such publications “were incompatible with freedom of the press” and said there should be an end to the publication of such “unacceptable” material, he office said.
German weekly Der Spiegel ran a cover story deeply critical of Erdogan in its latest issue, with a caricature of the Turkish president — whom the magazine called “the wild man of the Bosphorus” — shaking his fist.
The headline on the story read: “The fearsome friend: President Erdogan’s crusade against freedom and democracy.”
Turkey last month summoned Germany’s ambassador to protest a two-minute song lampooning Erdogan that was broadcast on German television.
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