US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizes Turkey over human rights concerns

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

US Senate photograph of Hilary Clinton.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that the recent actions by Turkey to arrest and detain journalists in the country, as well as planned Internet restrictions, are "an area of concern" for her.

Clinton is on a two-day visit to Turkey and made some of her comments during a news conference on the Turkish CNN channel during an event where she answered questions from Turkish citizens. Answering a question regarding the issue, she said that "I do not think it’s necessary or in Turkey's interests to be cracking down on journalists and bloggers and the Internet [...] it seems to me inconsistent with all the other advances that Turkey has made."

In a press conference jointly held with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, Clinton suggested that Turkey could serve as an example for Arab countries currently undergoing governmental changes. She said that "people in the Middle East and North Africa are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey's experience" and that "democratic development also depends on responsible leadership."

According to Turkish media groups, upwards of 60 journalists are being held based on dubious evidence, though government officials say that only 26 are imprisoned, all on charges separate from their activities in the media. In some recent arrests, authorities have cited anti-terror laws as justification. Separately, the government plans next month to place filters on Internet traffic in the country, which could allow for monitoring of individual users. Such human rights concerns have long served as a stumbling block for Turkey's attempts to join the European Union.