Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Erdogan tells EU and US ‘mind your own business,’ as journalists arrested


Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech commenting on those killed and wounded during a failed July 15 military coup, in Ankara, Turkey, late Friday. The government crackdown in the coup`s aftermath has strained Turkey`s ties with key allies including the United States.

Photo: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday told the EU and US to “mind your own business” after the West expressed alarm over the growing crackdown against suspected coup plotters, as a court placed 17 journalists under arrest.

Turkey has detained more than 18,000 people over the coup, which Ankara blames on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, with the relentless crackdown sparking warnings from Brussels that its EU membership bid might be in danger.

“Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business. Look at your own deeds,” Erdogan said in a speech at the presidential palace.

“Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union ... or from the West,” Erdogan said. “And then they say that ‘Erdogan has got so angry.’ Those countries or leaders who are not worried about Turkey’s democracy, the lives of our people, its future — while being so worried about the fate of the putschists — cannot be our friends.”

Erdogan vowed to take all steps “within the limits of the law” as Turkey seeks legal retribution for the perpetrators of the coup.

A Turkish official said 3,500 of those detained have now been released after questioning.

EU European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn said he needed to see “black-and-white facts about how these people are treated.”

“And if there is even the slightest doubt that the [treatment] is improper, then the consequences will be inevitable,” he told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Turkey has also targeted journalists accused of links to Gulen, causing further international alarm. Twenty-one detained suspects on Friday appeared in front of a judge in Istanbul to decide whether to remand them in custody.

After a hearing lasting to midnight, four were freed, but 17 placed under arrest ahead of trial, charged with “membership of a terror group,” the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Those held include the veteran journalist Nazli Ilicak, as well as the former correspondent for the pro-Gulen Zaman daily, Hanim Busra Erdal, it added.

Among the four freed was prominent commentator Bulent Mumay.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu defended the detention of reporters, saying it was necessary to distinguish between coup plotters and those “who are engaged in real journalism.”

The probe into coup plotters widened its scope to the financing of Gulen’s activities in Turkey, with what appeared to be the first major arrests targeting the business world.

Security forces in Kayseri detained the chairman of the family-owned Boydak Holding company, Mustafa Boydak, and two other top executives, Anadolu said.

The president also announced that as a gesture of goodwill after the coup he was dropping hundreds of lawsuits against individuals accused of insulting him.

“I am going to withdraw all the cases regarding the disrespectful insults made against me,” Erdogan said.

The authorities had said earlier this year that more than 2,000 people were being prosecuted on charges of insulting the president.

Speaking at the same event to remember the “martyrs” of July 15, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey has succeeded in eradicating all elements linked to Gulen from the military after firing nearly half of its generals following the failed coup.

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