Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he informed French President Emmanuel Macron about “so-called” journalists in Turkish jails during a visit to Paris, Hürriyet reported on Sunday.
“I informed Macron about the so-called journalists who are in prison in Turkey. I have told him that some of them are in prison for ordinary crimes, but the majority of them are there due to terrorism and links to terrorism,” Erdoğan told reporters on his way back to Turkey.
Saying that the French leader gave him the names of some jailed journalists, Erdoğan said: “I told him [Macron] that ‘I will send you information about what sort of claims prosecutors have put forward against them. Our judiciary is just as respected as yours is.”
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of January 4, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 138 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.
Erdoğan also said he told Macron that “Turkey is ahead of many Western countries in terms of human rights.”
In reference to jailed businessman and civil activist Osman Kavala, who was arrested on Nov. 1, 2017, Erdoğan underlined his uneasiness with people who expressed their concern about Kavala in France.
“It seems there are lawyers of Kavala in France, too. He is the Soros of Turkey, the hero of all the work behind the Gezi events [Gezi Park protests of 2013]. He is the name behind the curtains of those things. It is meaningful to see which circles embrace this kind of person,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan has also said he did not want to understand what French President Macron tried to say about the future of Turkey’s relations with the European Union.
Macron told Erdoğan during a joint press conference in Paris on Friday that there is no chance of progress towards Turkey joining the EU at present. “As far as the relationship with the European Union is concerned, it is clear that recent developments and choices do not allow any progression of the process in which we are engaged,” he said. The French leader also said there were differences over human rights since Turkey’s purges following a failed coup in 2016.
“I did not want to understand what he [Macron] wanted to say. I preferred to focus on them understanding us. I hope they understood us,” Erdoğan said, responding to questions from reporters while returning from France.
Turkey is “tired” of its EU membership process and cannot request membership in the bloc indefinitely, Erdoğan said in Paris. “We cannot continuously ask the EU, ‘Please take us, too’ now.”
Turkey, which applied for membership in the European Economic Community in 1987, became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister had announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkishminute.com)