Friday, July 29, 2016

US Spox: We still are deeply concerned by these reports

DPB #134
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

Qs & As on Turkey 

QUESTION: Turkey? 
MR KIRBY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: A Turkish prosecutor prepared an indictment regarding the failed coup, and it says that the indictment says that the CIA and the FBI trained Gulen followers. This is not the first time Turkish officials are trying to tie the U.S. to the coup attempt. I know that you said that the accusations are ludicrous, but they are constant. I wonder, how does this constant flow of accusations affect cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey?
MR KIRBY: There’s no change in the cooperation with Turkey, particularly when it comes to their support for the counter-Daesh operations. As I think our military has spoken to, the operations at Incirlik have resumed to a normal level. So I’m not aware of any practical, tangible impact on our bilateral cooperation with respect to Daesh, but again, I would just say what I said yesterday: Any accusation, claim, allegation, or suspicion that the United States was in any way involved in this coup attempt is utterly false and inaccurate.

QUESTION: Sir, James Clapper said seemed to have said the opposite of what you just said. He said that the purge in the military is harming cooperation with Turkey, especially regarding operations against ISIL. He said many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested, there’s no question this is going to set back and make more difficult cooperation with Turkey. Now, how serious is that? What you’re saying seems to be conflicting what he said.
MR KIRBY: Well, your question was has there been any impact, and my answer to that is no. To date, there’s been no impact on Turkey’s cooperation and membership and participation as a member of the coalition against Daesh. And I would also point you to what Turkish officials have said themselves to us bilaterally, but even publicly, that there’s not going to be any negative developments as a result of their efforts to investigate and get to the bottom of this coup on their willingness and ability to continue to support coalition operations. And again, thus far, there haven’t been.
I’m not in the predicting business and so I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals or speculation about where this goes forward. But thus far, as you and I are sitting here talking, there’s been no practical impact.

QUESTION: Turkey – in response to General Votel’s expressing concerns about the purge in the military, President Erdogan has just accused him of siding with coup plotters and said, quote/unquote, “Know your place.” Do you think Turkey has crossed the line in the friendship that you often talk about? And is there a line that Turkey can cross?
MR KIRBY: Well, again, I’ve seen those comments. I think you saw that General Votel himself put out a statement just not long ago making it clear that he wasn’t at all siding with coup plotters. As a matter of fact, as you know, our government has condemned that coup attempt very clearly and very consistently. And I’m also not going to react to every bit of rhetoric out there that seems to come every day. Turkey is a NATO ally, they are a friend, and they are a partner an important partner, especially in the efforts to counter Daesh in Syria. And that partnership continues. And they themselves have committed to continuing that partnership and that’s where our focus is going to be going forward.

QUESTION: That rhetoric seems to be having an impact on the ground in Turkey. Just earlier this week, thousands of people marched onto the Incirlik Air Base chanting anti-American slogans. Are you concerned about the safety of U.S. personnel in Turkey and the safety of nuclear weapons at the Incirlik Air Base?
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to speak to the latter one way or the other. As to the former, we are always concerned about the safety and security of U.S. personnel, be they military or civilian, certainly those that work inside our embassies and facilities. I mean, that’s something we’re always concerned about, and not long ago, a couple weeks ago, you and I, we were all talking about steps that we were taking to try to help better ensure that safety and security right inside Turkey because of the terrorist threat. Now, I’ve seen the reports of the protest activity. We – above so many others, we value freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and the Turkish people have that right. That’s a democratic principle that’s enshrined in their own constitution. They have that right. And they have and they certainly have the right to express their views one way or another.
If you’re asking me, as a result of that protest, did that elevate our concerns, I’m not aware that it did. As far as I have seen, it was a peaceful assembly of people expressing their views and did not pose a threat to American personnel or our equipment or facilities.

QUESTION: But are you worried that the accusations and the rhetoric that Turkish officials are putting out there may incite violence against U.S. personnel in Turkey?
MR KIRBY: Well, I mean, we certainly don’t want to see any rhetoric enflame tensions or lead to or encourage violence. And I can assure you that we are in constant communication with Turkish authorities and have been since the coup attempt to talk to them about what they’re doing and how it’s going. Our ambassador remains engaged every day, but obviously, it’s not – we certainly wouldn’t want to see anything, be it through words or actions, that could put any innocent people in harm’s way – not just Americans, but any innocent individuals in Turkey in harm’s way. 

QUESTION: On Turkey, Turkish justice minister and foreign minister said that they have credible information that Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, may run away from U.S. I was wondering if you shared a similar concern.
MR KIRBY: I have no information one way or the other about that, and I’d – and that’s really not a matter for the State Department to speak to.

QUESTION: And I was also wondering if U.S. taking any security measures to make sure such thing will not happen.
MR KIRBY: Again, that is not a matter for the State Department to discuss. That’s really a matter for the Justice Department to speak to, and I won’t comment further on that.

QUESTION: Yeah, but in the extradition treaty – and I think it’s in Article 10 – it says in cases of urgency, if in this case, if Turkey gets suspected of such thing, U.S. needs to arrest the person for 90 days before the extradition. So it involves the State Department and the Justice Department, so I was wondering if any steps on the security of Gulen to make sure that he won’t run away is taken on --
MR KIRBY: I don’t have anything further to add to that. Those are questions that really should be directed to the Justice Department and law enforcement authorities. As I said, we are in receipt of some material. The Justice Department is still analyzing that material, and that and again, the whole process of extradition can be a fairly lengthy legal process, and we’re going to respect that process. Beyond that, I just don’t have anything more to say.
QUESTION: Follow-up from yesterday, I think. You were asked about 130 media organizations being shut down in Turkey, and you said that you are seeking to get more information about those shutdown media groups organizations. And today 20 of 21 journalists detained in recent days sent the prosecutor ask them to be arrested just today. So it seems like the journalist, most of them, will be arrested, it looks like. I was wondering if you have any comment on that.

MR KIRBY: We still are deeply concerned by these reports and we’re still trying to gather more information. As I said in my previous answer, our ambassador remains daily engaged with his counterparts, as you might think he would.
And again, let me just reiterate again that the United States supports freedom of expression around the world, and we have talked many, many times here in this room about our concerns over freedom of expression and of free press in Turkey. Those concerns remain today. And when any country makes a move to close down media outlets and restrict this universal value, it is of concern to us. And again, we continue to express that.

QUESTION: Turkey. 
QUESTION: I don’t know if you had a chance to look at the story about the so-called Traitors’ Cemetery outside Istanbul. According to our story, which is based which includes reference to local media reports as well, at least one Turkish military officer who is accused of involvement in the coup was buried in this cemetery, which, as I understand it, is marked Traitors’ Cemetery and by the government. And he was denied or was not given the normal religious rites that would accompany such a burial. Do you regard that as a violation of his or his family’s rights or religious freedom?
MR KIRBY: Well, look, obviously and we had a conference here in just the last couple of days about the importance of human rights, religious minorities and that was obviously for religious minorities. But I mean, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of worship remains a universal value that we obviously hold in very high regard. So broadly speaking, we always want to be able to see particularly in democracies we want to be able to see that those rights, that those freedoms are respected.
Now, I’ve seen a press report same as you, Arshad, and I’ve only seen a press report, and nothing beyond this article which I was able to read before coming down here. As I understand it in these very early minutes here after seeing this story that this was a municipal decision, and I think best right now to refer you to the Government of Turkey for more information about this particular decision which is, again, we understand at this early hour, was made at the municipal level.
We are, like you, trying to gain a little bit better clarity about this and what it actually means.

QUESTION: Can I just one follow-up. When following the killing of Usama bin Ladin, the U.S. Government made very clear that it had chosen to conduct his burial at sea in accordance with Muslim traditions. That was clearly a very deliberate decision even towards someone that the United States held responsible for the killing of 3,000 people on 9/11. Do you think that, as a general principle, people should be – if it is their or their family’s wish, should be – or even in
this case if it’s not – I mean, I doubt you consulted the bin Ladin family, although maybe you did do you think that people should be accorded the normal religious rituals?

MR KIRBY: To be laid to rest in accordance with their religious practices? 
MR KIRBY: Absolutely we do, sure. Sure we do. And you were right; that was a very sharp example but obviously a famous example of how we observe that ourselves. And of course, as a general principle, as I said, in keeping with our belief in the freedom of worship, we believe that individuals should be accorded those customs, those traditions, those rites, to be laid to rest in keeping with the same practices by which they worshiped when they were alive.

QUESTION: And then last one from me on Turkey. Turkish officials today, I believe, said that something like 50,000 people have been Turkish citizens have been deprived of their passports following the coup attempt. This is a broader question, but it goes to the fundamental question of and I know you guys have said, look, they deserve to be able to get to the bottom of this.
On the other hand, when thousands and thousands, or in this case, tens of thousands of people are being affected, for example, by losing their ability to travel outside the country, does that not raise concerns in the United States about Turkey’s ability over the long term to maintain a democratically run and cohesive society? Or do you see any risk that the elimination of or the dismissal of the academics and the incarceration of journalists and the dismissals of civil servants and judges and so on is going to rend the sort of fabric of the society and just make its divisions even deeper over time?
MR KIRBY: Well, we certainly don’t want to see that. As we’ve said many times, Turkey matters to us as a friend and an ally; their democracy matters to us. That is why we’ve been so forthright in recent weeks about press freedoms, for instance. So that is absolutely not an outcome that we would like to see.
But again, we note that this was a serious coup attempt that, though failed, was had a measure of organization to it and execution to it that would alarm any government so threatened. And we understand their need to try to get to the bottom of this and to try to figure out what happened and to be able to put in place measures so that it can’t happen again. I think any government would be in their rights to do that.
We’re watching this very closely, as we’ve said. We’ve also been very honest with our friends in Turkey about our concerns, about the importance of rule of law and due process, as they go about this investigation. I think we’re loathe to make a judgment or a characterization on each and every decision that’s being made, but I can assure you that we remain in close touch with our counterparts in Turkey as they are being made and as this process moves forward, and we’re going to stay committed to doing just that.

QUESTION: So it’s conceivable to you – I mean, I understand you don’t want to make judgment on each and every thing, but the way you’re talking, it sounds like it’s conceivable to you that it’s perfectly reasonable to pull 50,000 people – I mean, 50,000, that’s like a small city, certainly a very big town – that it’s conceivable, that it’s entirely within – reasonable to pull that many people’s passports as they’re investigating this.
MR KIRBY: That’s not what I said and I’m not making – again, I’m not going to make judgments or characterizations on each and every decision that they’re making. We have been very honest and candid about our concerns with respect to rule of law and due process. Those concerns remain as valid today as they did when we first expressed them, and we will continue to monitor events closely and to stay in close touch with Turkish counterparts. But I’m – as I have before, I’m going to avoid making either lump-sum characterizations or individual characterizations of each and every decision.

QUESTION: Just one question, a follow-up, if I may. You have been talking about these rights universal rights, fundamental rights but Turkey suspended European Convention of Human Rights. And so far, these days, the official authorities don’t need to even bring charges to detain anyone, which, right now, what’s going on, journalists are being detained without giving any reason or any evidence, and they stay at least 30 days because of state of emergency. So your citation or reference doesn’t really matter for Turkey, looks like.
MR KIRBY: Well, I think you’d have to ask Turkish officials that question. Nothing’s changed about our views. I don’t – but the decisions they’re making, they should speak to. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

US is deeply concerned by the reports 130 media organizations are shut down

DPB # 133
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

Turkey Qs & As

QUESTION: Yes. A couple questions. Ambassador Bass is quoted by the Turkish media in a speech as saying that Gulen was responsible for the coup. So is that accurate? Also, Turkish Government officials are quoted, saying that if Gulen is not extradited it will have a serious impact on U.S.-Turkish relations. What is the response to that?
MR KIRBY: Well, first, the answer to your first question is no, he didn’t give a speech and he never said that. On the answer – in the answer to the second question, look, we’ve been very consistent here in everything we’ve said about Mr. Gulen and any potential for extradition, that that kind of a decision would have to be evidence-based; it would have to be properly processed the way it is supposed to in coordination between the State Department and the Justice Department. As I have indicated earlier, we are in receipt of some material, and that material is being analyzed right now. I don’t have an update for you, and I wouldn’t get ahead of what is and can be a fairly lengthy legal process.

QUESTION: Since your comment yesterday characterizing Turkey, we now have official confirmation that more than 130 Turkish media organizations have been shut down. Is that question was asked yesterday, I think, by Arshad or somebody. Do you still consider Turkey a democracy, considering the thousands of people in detention, tens of thousands of suspects, and the arrests of journalists and 130 to 150 media organizations being shut down?
MR KIRBY: Well, let me just address the media piece of that. We’re obviously deeply concerned by the reports and we’re seeking additional information from Turkish authorities. As you well know and as I’ve said many, many times from the podium, the United States supports freedom of expression around the world. And we have concerns when any country makes a move to close down media outlets and restrict this universal value. We expect Turkish authorities to uphold their assurances that the Turkish Government will protect the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

QUESTION: The Turkish officials also suggesting that Erdogan, the Turkish president, wants to put the military under his direct control, not have it as a separate entity. Would the U.S. be supportive of such a move, which would require a change in the constitution, or does this raise more concerns about his ability to wield power and to control more facets of the Turkish Government?
MR KIRBY: We’ve talked at length, Ros, about what’s going on in Turkey. We’ve condemned the failed coup. We’ve made clear that we understand the Turkish Government has a right and a responsibility, quite frankly, to their citizens to get to the bottom of this, to investigate it, and to hold those responsible for the coup to account.
The President and Secretary Kerry have also, of course, stressed the importance to their Turkish counterparts of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law throughout this process. I’ve
said that I’m not going to make it a habit from this podium of responding and reacting to every single decision. We’ve seen this in press reporting same as you, and I would leave it to Turkish authorities to describe the motives behind it.
But obviously, Turkey matters to us as a friend and an ally. Their democracy matters to us. Their success as a democracy matters to us. And so as a friend and an ally, we’re going to continue to stay in close touch with Turkish authorities as they work through this.

QUESTION: Quick two questions on Turkey.
MR KIRBY: I’m guessing your question’s also on this.
QUESTION: Yes. Earlier, Turkish administration announced that they will send justice minister and interior minister here for the extradition process. Do you know if that visit is still happening, or --
MR KIRBY: I don’t have any updates on their – to give you, and I would point you to Turkish leaders to talk about their travel.

QUESTION: And the last one. There are still a lot of conspiracy theories or theories regarding U.S. involvement, despite the fact that --
MR KIRBY: About U.S. what?
QUESTION: U.S. involvement in the coup attempt. There are still a lot of stories every day, headlines in Turkey. Do you think that the government Turkish Government is doing to counter these messages, or do you think the why do you think these blames and accusations are still continuing?
MR KIRBY: Well, I couldn’t possibly begin to know the answer to that question. The people propagating the false rumors are the ones to ask. Obviously, we had no involvement in this, and any suggestion otherwise is ludicrous. But why such a rumor would still be propagated or still be able to find purchase over there, I couldn’t begin to guess. We are not only an ally to Turkey, we’re a friend, we’re a partner, and Turkey remains a member of the coalition to counter Daesh. And we value that partnership, and as we’ve said all along, we’re going to continue to look for ways to deepen and strengthen it going forward.

QUESTION: President Erdogan is going to Moscow next week, and there are a lot of opinion pieces and speculations that Turkey’s getting closer to Russia and there may be some tensions increasing between the U.S. and Turkey, as earlier question mentioned. Do you have any comment on Turkey’s getting closer to Russia, whether --
MR KIRBY: Look, I mean, as a sovereign nation, Turkey has every right to pursue bilateral relations that it believes are important and to improve and strengthen those bilateral relations that it chooses to improve and strengthen. So I’m not – we’re not in – wouldn’t be in a position to comment or qualify one way or another President Erdogan’s travel or his discussion with foreign leaders. That’s his right and responsibility; that’s the right and responsibility of a sovereign nation.
What matters to us is both a bilateral and multilateral relationship that we have with Turkey: multilateral through NATO, multilateral through the coalition to counter Daesh; and, of course, the bilateral relationship that we have. And look, we’ve been nothing but honest and open and forthright with you right here in this briefing room about issues and things that happen in Turkey that concern us. We’ve also been open, candid, and forthright with Turkish leaders about those same issues, as well as – and this often doesn’t get attention by you guys – but the all the many ways in which we see eye to eye with Turkey on many things and the things that we try to work together on and try to advance, and there’s a lot of those too. I understand that doesn’t make headlines, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening, and it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening even today as Turkey works through the aftermath of this coup, because operations against Daesh continue. Operations against Daesh out of Incirlik continue.
So there’s – as there always is in a consequential bilateral relationship like the one we have with Turkey, there is a wide menu, an agenda of issues, to talk with them about. That’s certainly no less true in fact, more true, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way, in the wake of this coup attempt. And that’s why Ambassador Bass is working so hard to continue the communication and the dialogue and to improve the mutual understanding that he has with his counterparts there in Ankara.

QUESTION: John, following up on that, there was a message put out by the U.S. consulate saying that there are protesters marching towards the Incirlik demanding that it be closed. Is there any concern about what appears to be a growing march of protesters?
MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen that report, Abbie, so I’m going to have to kind of go back and take a look at that. So without addressing a specific query about a protest march on Incirlik, let me just say that, again, we appreciate Turkish support for the coalition in terms of the use of the Incirlik Air Base for operations against Daesh in Syria. As I said, those operations continue, Turkish support continues, and Turkish leaders from President Erdogan right on down to the foreign minister in his conversations with Secretary Kerry made it very clear that there were not going to be negative developments in terms of those efforts as a result of this coup attempt. And with the exception of some temporary loss of power, which we talked about last week, they’ve been good to their word – that there hasn’t been a degradation in coalition use of Incirlik or Turkish support for that use of Incirlik against Daesh in Syria. So again, I just don’t know anything about this – the protests and I’d have to go find a little bit more out for you before I could answer specifically a question about that. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kirby: Turkey is a democratically elected government, not sure if democracy

Daily Press Briefing Index Wednesday, July 27, 2016 1:09 p.m. EDT
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

Qs & As w John Kirby

Gulen Extradition
QUESTION: Today Turkish prime minister said to Wall Street Journal that evidence is crystal- clear that Fethullah Gulen, exiled cleric here, is behind the coup. And he ask why the U.S. just can’t hand over this individual to us. Do you have a comment on this particular --
MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen those comments. But as we’ve said, we have received some materials from the Turkish Government, and those materials are being reviewed. I don't have an update for you on that process. 

Kirby: We have urged President Erdogan to show restraint
QUESTION: On Turkey, over the weekend there was a arrest warrant issued for 42 journalists, and just today there is another warrant for detainment of 47 journalists. And there are more lists are coming up, obviously. It looks like there will be hundreds more. There are about 15,000 people detained. These are official numbers. Over 60,000 people are sacked, suspended across Turkey. I was wondering, first of all, your comment. And second, you mentioned last week or Monday that Turkey should not take excessive actions after the coup. Do you think these actions are can be classified as excessive?
MR KIRBY: Well, we also said that we’re not going to get into the business of characterizing every decision every moment that it’s made. I think I would point you back to what the Secretary has said repeatedly, that we have been nothing but strong in expressing our grave concern about the failed coup. We have been nothing but strong and candid in condemning that failed coup and condemning the coup attempt, not the fact that it failed, obviously and expressing our unequivocal support for the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey. The President himself strongly condemned the failed coup attempt and expressed U.S. support for Turkish democratic institutions. He thanked Turkish authorities for their continued support in ensuring the safety and well-being of our diplomatic missions and personnel, American servicemen and women who are there, and civilians our civilians throughout Turkey. And, of course, we have urged President Erdogan to show restraint, to act within the rule of law, to avoid actions that would lead to further violence and instability. We obviously support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice and we also continue to stress the importance of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law through the process.

Kirby: Journalist detainments continuation of what I’ve talked about as a troubling trend in Turkey
QUESTION: Okay. So about these journalists over hundred journalists. From here, do you think this many journalists can be involved with the coup? Do you think this can be realistically happened?
MR KIRBY: Well, look, I these kinds of actions – and we’ve talked about this in the past, our concerns over press freedoms. I think we would see this as a continuation of what I’ve talked about as a troubling trend in Turkey, where official bodies law enforcement and judicial are being used to discourage legitimate political recourse – I’m sorry, discourse, legitimate political discourse. I mean, we’ve been I think very consistent about that.

Other reports blue:
Kirby: US urged Turkish authorities for a dedication to rule of law
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Do you believe that the current Turkish Government is systematically dismantling the institutions of society, including the judiciary and the press, that can serve on as a check on the powers of the executive?
MR KIRBY: I think I’m going to have to point you back to what I’ve said here just a few minutes ago. The – we’re not going to characterize each and every move as they occur. What we’ve been – I -
QUESTION: I’m talking about the whole thing.
MR KIRBY: What we’ve – what we’ve been very consistent on is condemning the coup attempt, the attempt by military force to overthrow a democratically elected government. I think our position was crystal clear on that since that night. And we’ve also, in conversations with Turkish authorities at various levels, urged restraint, a dedication to rule of law, and the democratic principles that have upheld the elected government in Turkey already.
But again, I’m not – and we’re obviously watching and – developments there and we’re staying in touch with Turkish authorities. Our ambassador has been in near constant communication with his counterparts in the Turkish Government. And I just don’t know that we’re going to be able to characterize it any deeper than that.

Kirby: Turkey is a democratically elected government, not sure if democracy
QUESTION: John, knowing your vast knowledge about the world affairs and all, most of the dictators in history have been democratically elected. Do you feel you are still saying Turkey is still a democracy when all this purging is going on?
MR KIRBY: Again, Tejinder, it is a democratically elected government, and it was a government that at least some elements of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow. There’s obviously an investigation going on by Turkish authorities to figure out exactly what happened here, and how it could happen. We, as I said at the outset, understand the need for them to be able to get their arms around this failed coup and to hold the perpetrators to account. We’ve said that again from within the first hour or two of it happening. We’ve also said, and continue to believe, that a measured, deliberate approach to that that is that observes the rule of law and due process is important. And we continue to make those concerns known. 

Qamishli Massacre
QUESTION: Thank you. One Syria-related question before transitioning to Turkey. Today, there was a suicide bombing in Qamishli, a Syrian Kurdish city, which killed about 50 and injured over 100. Want to see – I think ISIS already claimed that, if you have any comment.
MR KIRBY: Yes. Thank you. We certainly condemn in the strongest terms today’s reprehensible terrorist attack that killed scores of civilians in Qamishli, Syria and we extend, of course, our deepest condolences to all the families of those that were killed, and, of course, our thoughts and prayers for those who have been injured. This attack, once again, displays the type of horrific atrocities that Daesh has perpetrated against tens of thousands of innocent people across Syria and Iraq and only affirms – reaffirms, I should say – international resolve to strengthen our efforts to degrade and defeat Daesh and to support those who are also working to degrade and defeat Daesh. And that resolve remains unchanged, wherever they might be in the world.
Now, on the details of it, I just don’t have – I’ve, again, seen the same reports. We have no reason to doubt the veracity of the claims of responsibility by Daesh, and I – as for further details on it, I’d have to point you to authorities there.

US says "committed to defend freedom of the press" shies away making specific comments re jailed journalists in Turkey

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release
For your reference, please find attached an indexed DPB, which will be available here.  

DPB #131
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2016
Briefer: Elizabeth Trudeau, Director, Office of Press Relations 

My Qs & As w/State Dept Spox Trudeau

QUESTION:  Turkey?
QUESTION:  Thank you.  My first question is last week U.S. Government stated that it received documents from Turkey regarding extradition process for Fethullah Gulen, and you were going to take a look whether this can be qualified as an extradition request.  Are you – have you made that decision yet?
MS TRUDEAU:  I have no update on that.  As we mentioned last week and I believe we touched on this week too, we have received documents.  We continue to review them.  So I have no update on that.

QUESTION:  The Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu today stated that they have – even though they already submitted necessary documents to U.S. Government, they have not responded that yet.  Do you have any particular response to that comment?
MS TRUDEAU:  I wouldn’t.  I’d let the foreign minister’s comments stand.  But I would say that as we’ve said, the extradition process is a formal process, it’s a legal process, it’s a technical process, it’s governed by the extradition treaty that both our governments signed.  So we’re going to let that process play out.

QUESTION:  Okay, and another question.  After the coup – I haven’t been able to ask this question.  Yesterday, there is a new arrest warrant for 42 journalists, and there are more.  These 42 journalists only just yesterday numbers.  And for example, there are 19 journalists, arrest warrants for 19 journalists in Antalya, south city, and there are other cities similar warrants.  Are you concerned that after the coup attempt government is moving to basically go after the critical voices and news journalists along with the coup plotters or allegedly coup plotters?
MS TRUDEAU:  Well, I’d say what we’ve said repeatedly:  In a democratic society, critical voices need to be encouraged; they don’t need to be silenced.  We have said many times, not just in relation to Turkey but countries around the world, that democracies become stronger when they let voices from diverse points of view speak. 
I’d note, and the President has spoken to this himself, we’ve conveyed both publicly and in private conversations with our Turkish friends and allies the importance of protecting freedom of the press.  We are committed to defend freedom of the press, media freedom, due process, freedom of assembly everywhere in the world.

QUESTION:  So in terms of in this context, are you concerned with this ongoing campaign of arrests for Turkish journalists?
MS TRUDEAU:  So what I would say is that we have actually spoken to this.  The President spoke to this and we’ll let his comments stand.

QUESTION:  The Travel Warning notes that the voluntary departure of relatives of those working for U.S. embassy and consulate personnel has been authorized.
MS TRUDEAU:  Mm-hmm.
QUESTION:  What has changed in the last several days, since it does seem that, for better or worse, President Erdogan has a firm grip on power?  Why is it not safe for the relatives to stay?
MS TRUDEAU:  Okay, so it’s important to differentiate on this.  This is an authorized departure, so this is an authorized departure.  I think many of you saw the Travel Warning that went out.  It’s an authorized departure for our embassy in Ankara as well as our consulate in Istanbul for the family members of U.S. personnel stationed there.  This is a precautionary measure.  It does follow the July 15th attempted coup.  We continue to monitor the security developments there, and as we have information, of course, as we are obligated to do, we will share that with the American public.  But again, this is an abundance of caution, and again, this is optional.  So this is authorized; this is not ordered.

Monday, July 25, 2016

White House: Ostensibly, Turkish government is protecting the Turkish democracy.. so they need to protect foundation of it

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                July 25, 2016


James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

My Qs & As with White House Press Sec Earnest

Yes, sir, I’ll give you the last one.

Q    Thanks so much.  On Turkey, Josh, a couple of questions, if I may.  Just today, there are about 42 journalists -- issued arrest warrant for 42 journalists -- there’s another warrant for arrest for another 19 journalists (in Antalya)... and there are many other across Turkey.  A crackdown goes on.  It has been 10 days since the coup attempt failed.  Are you watching what’s going on in Turkey in terms of a government’s, some call purge, some other call crackdown after the coup?

MR. EARNEST:  President Obama was asked about this on Friday, and I think the President spoke quite directly about the situation in Turkey.  I think it should be evident from his response that it’s not just that the United States government is closely following the situation in Turkey.  President Obama is personally following the situation in Turkey quite closely.

Turkey is an important ally of the United States.  And there’s a reason that the United States was one of the first countries around the world to issue our own swift condemnation of the coup attempt in Turkey.  The United States values our alliance and certainly deeply respects the democratic traditions inside of Turkey.  And when President Obama had an opportunity to speak with President Erdogan on the telephone last week, President Obama conveyed his view that Turkish democratic institutions are worth protecting.  It’s those very institutions and traditions that were critical to repelling the coup in the first place.

And there’s strong support among the Turkish people and within the Turkish government for those democratic institutions. In fact, in the midst of the coup, you saw the parties in the Turkish parliament come forward issuing their own sweeping condemnation of the coup attempt, even though some of those parties have vigorous political disagreements with President Erdogan. 

So these kinds of democratic institutions and traditions, the democratic values that are enshrined in Turkey’s constitution are all worth protecting.  And even as the Turkish government conducts the kind of investigation that’s necessary to get to the bottom of what happened in the context of the failed coup, it’s also important for them to keep in mind that those democratic institutions were instrumental from preventing the coup from succeeding.

Q    Do you think that these many journalists being detained or arrested, is it justified?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, freedom of the press is one of the rights that’s enshrined in the Turkish constitution.  And President Obama on more than one occasion has had a conversation with President Erdogan about the United States’ own view and the U.S. government’s own view that protecting those rights is important.  And the President certainly has conveyed that to President Erdogan in the past, even before the coup took place.

So the United States’ commitment to those values and those principles, including the freedom of the press, is rock solid.  And we certainly have -- well, I’ll just say, President Obama has certainly conveyed our rock-solid commitment to those issues to President Erdogan in the hopes that he’ll demonstrate a similar commitment to them.

Q    So you think it’s not justified?  Can you --

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I can’t from here render a judgment on that.  But President Obama made clear that he’s personally watching the situation closely.  U.S. officials continue to be in close touch with their Turkish counterparts, and we certainly believe that it’s important, even as the Turkish government goes to great lengths to determine what exactly happened in the context of the failed coup -- and to bring some accountability to those who may have been complicit in that effort -- that it’s critically important that the Turkish government not also undermine the very democratic institutions that, ostensibly, they’re trying to protect.

Q    In the same press conference, President Obama last week stated that some of the rumors “that the U.S. involved” about coup would threaten critical alliance between Turkey and U.S.  Yet over the weekend, Turkish Justice Minister said that however knows his name is Obama and U.S. also knows that it is behind the coup.  This came from justice minister.  And today, very staunch pro-government newspaper headline accusing the former General Campbell is behind the coup -- who operated and coordinated the coup from Turkey -- visiting Turkey several times in recent months -- with a picture and the name.  Do you think your message has been listened to in Turkey?

     MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, the allegation against General Campbell is baseless and barely worth a response.  President Obama was, to use his word, unequivocal in the East Room about the United States and our strong commitment to our alliance with Turkey.

     The President was unequivocal in his condemnation of the attempt by some members of the military to overthrow the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey.  There's some pretty good evidence to indicate that we mean what we saw.  The United States was among the first countries to issue a statement critical of the failed coup attempt.

     So President Obama can obviously speak to this more authoritatively than I can, and he did, as recently as last Friday in saying that the United States was, of course, not just not involved in the coup attempt but rather was and has been critical of the failed coup attempt and strongly supportive of the democratically elected government of Turkey.

     Q    Final question.  There is an Amnesty International report saying that there is credible evidence of torture, including rape, applied to detainees -- over 10,000 people so far have been detained.  Have you seen the report?  Do you have a comment on that?

     MR. EARNEST:  I've been briefed on the report.  What I can tell you is that there are important democratic institutions and traditions inside of Turkey that are worth protecting.  There are rights enshrined in Turkey's constitution that are worth protecting.  These basic human rights are an important part of the alliance between the United States and Turkey -- both the United States and Turkey are strongly committed to those universal human rights and strongly committed to protecting those universal human rights.  

And it's important, even as Turkey conducts an investigation to determine who may have been responsible for the failed coup attempt, that they protect those basic human rights moving forward.  And that is something that President Obama has conveyed directly in private to President Erdogan.  It's something that President Obama discussed publicly yesterday -- or on Friday in his news conferences.  And it's something I anticipate that the administration will continue to watch closely moving forward.

     Q    Turkey suspended the human rights convention, so it is not bound to it.  And also there is a state of emergency in Turkey right now.  So you have been mentioning the (inaudible) (those rights,IT) suspended in Turkey.

     MR. EARNEST:  Well, what also happened in Turkey, as you pointed out, was just 10 days ago there was an attempt by some members of the military to overthrow the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey.  So it's understandable that the Turkish government and the Turkish people would be interested in a full investigation and in some accountability.

     So the situation in Turkey is tense.  People are understandably on edge.  But what is clear is that it's important for Turkey's government to protect the kinds of democratic institutions and traditions that Turkey has long stood for you.  Ostensibly, that is what the government is protecting -- is the Turkish democracy.  And as they protect the Turkish democracy, it's important that they are protective of the principles that form the foundation of that democracy.