Turkey's Erdogan dismisses criticism against Gulen case

"You will respect the decisions of Turkish judiciary and the rule of law," says Erdogan in caustic response to EU criticism of recent police probe and detentions

Turkey's Erdogan dismisses criticism against Gulen case

World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out on Saturday at the European Union over its stance on the ongoing probe on senior media and police officials in Turkey, calling for respect to Turkey’s judiciary.

“They say the detained people are journalists. Do journalists not commit crimes?” Erdogan said. “[EU] delivered a statement on its non-business day. How sensitive they are over this country!"

Speaking at the General Assembly of Foreign Economic Relations Board or DEIK in Istanbul, he said, addressing EU figures and other world leaders: “Like it or not, you will respect the decisions of Turkish judiciary and the rule of law."

“They kept silent over the biggest torture claims of the history. We watched the events in Guantanamo. (...) If all of these happened in Turkey, would they keep silent like that?"

“Israel killed 16 journalists this year. Why did you keep silent? (…) In Egypt, dozens of journalists including Turkish ones were taken into custody. Why did not you say anything?"

“While 50 journalists are questioned in related to UK’s phone hacking scandal, why did not you say ‘the press are silenced’?”

Reminding an arson attack on a house of Turkish citizens in Sindelfingen, Germany last year, Erdogan said: “There are still no perpetrators. Can you answer for this? Then, which justice are you talking about?"

Federica Mogherini, the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, recently described the ongoing probe and detentions in the media and police as going against European values and democracy.

Erdogan said he is closely following the inquiry and dismissed criticism that the case is politically motivated.

Erdogan spoke a day after an Istanbul court ordered the arrest of Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has accused of leading a terrorist plot to seize power and whose supporters the president has purged from the judiciary and police.

A police operation was launched on Sunday against senior media figures and police officers in 13 provinces across Turkey for allegedly being affiliated with what the Turkish government describes as the "parallel state," a purported group of bureaucrats embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police. Four people, including the chairman of a TV network, were arrested.

The president said: “Turkey is not a country whose agenda is determined (by others). (...) It is a not a country which gained its international dignity through headlines or fake reports.”

Erdogan said that he expected harder work from all Turkish state institutions, especially international ones such as Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency TIKA, Turkish Red Crescent Society, Turkish Airlines, Turkish state network TRT and Anadolu Agency -- in order to realize the government's 2023 goals.

Turkey is approaching general elections in 2015, where the ruling AK Party government -- led by Erdogan's ally Premier Ahmet Davutoglu -- will seek its fourth term in power.

The arrest warrant for Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, could test relations with Washington and raise questions about judicial independence in Turkey. A Turkish prosecutor has accused him of leading an armed terrorist group.

Once close allies, the two men's relationship ruptured in December 2013 when a corruption investigation by police seen as close to the cleric's Hizmet (Service) movement implicated Erdogan and some of his family members and cabinet ministers.

The president has described the corruption case as a coup plot. The graft probe has since been formally dropped.

The Alliance for Shared Values, a group representing Hizmet-affiliated organisations in the United States, said in a statement the arrest warrant "is nothing more than an attempt to shift public attention away from issues such as corruption."

The head of Samanyolu Television, which is close to Gulen, and three other people were remanded to custody on Friday. Eight others including Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper close to Gulen, were released pending trial.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Aralık 2014, 16:54