Turkish PM slams int'l agencies over critical reports on Turkey

Photo: Turkish PM slams int'l agencies over critical reports on Turkey
 / Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blasted international agencies for criticizing Turkey over its protection of human rights and freedom of the press Today`s Zaman reported.

Addressing lawmakers of his party on Monday, Erdogan said the critical reports are based on false news sources and do not reflect the truth.

The prime minister was implicitly referring to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which late in 2012 released a report on press freedom in Turkey, and the Human Rights Watch (HRW), which recently criticized Turkey over "the arbitrary and abusive use of anti-terrorism laws" and prolonged pre-trial detentions.

"In the past few years, Turkey's overbroad anti-terrorism laws have been used against an ever-widening circle of people, charged for non-violent political activities and the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression, association, and assembly," the HRW said, commenting on a recent İstanbul court decision to order the pre-trial detention of nine human rights lawyers.

Nine lawyers were arrested and sent to jail pending trial on Jan. 21 for their suspected links to the terrorist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). The arrests followed a major simultaneous operation on Jan. 18 in several cities, including İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir.

"The nine lawyers imprisoned have been particularly active on human rights cases, especially in representing victims of police violence. There is a secrecy order on the investigation into the lawyers, and the nature of the evidence against them has not been fully disclosed," HRW said, commenting on the arrests.

Meanwhile, the CPJ, the other target of Erdogan's criticism, complained in a report in late November about the growing number of journalists who have been put behind bars in Turkey. The report, titled "Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis: The Dark Days of Jailing Journalists and Criminalizing Dissent," said the CPJ has found highly repressive laws -- particularly in the penal code and anti-terror law -- as well as a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government.

In its annual census of imprisoned journalists the CPJ identified 76 journalists imprisoned as of Aug. 1, 2012. This figure was later revised to 49 in December. Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin then lambasted the international watchdog for being inconsistent and underestimating Turkey's protection of press freedom.

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