74 US senators urge Kerry to address press freedom in Turkey

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, along with 73 other United States senators, wrote a letter on March 18 to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to urge the State Department to immediately address issues “stemming from of the intimidation of journalists and censorship of the media” in Turkey, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Recalling that daily Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı had been detained and Samanyolu Media Group head Hidayet Karaca was arrested on Dec. 14, 2014, the letter “strongly urges [Kerry] to address this issue with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his administration in a way that encourages a peaceful and appropriate resolution to these cases.”

“As a democracy with a long tradition of tolerance of a civic discourse and as a valued American partner in many endeavors, the current Turkish government under President Erdoğan needs to stop suppressing the free press and put an end to gross intimidation efforts among members of the media who express opinions or report events in a way that the regime feels is opposed to their interests,” said Senator Schumer.

“Secretary of State Kerry should address the worrisome trend towards undemocratic behavior in President Erdogan’s Administration and urge the government to adhere to the basic principles of democracy, including freedom of the press – something that has long been a value in Turkey,” he added.

“The Erdoğan Administration should be held accountable for these egregious abuses of free speech,” said Senator Roger Wicker, the co-author of the letter.

“Arresting journalists and censoring the media are the hallmarks of an authoritarian regime, not a democracy.  I hope Secretary Kerry will work to resolve these troubling developments without delay,” Wicker added.

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