WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — The Obama administration should exert more pressure on Turkey to stop Ankara’s crackdown on journalists and prioritize the issue of press freedom in US-Turkish bilateral relations, prominent investigative journalists told Sputnik.
“We have to put more pressure on the Obama administration to make freedom of the press in Turkey a higher priority… It is up to us to pressure our own government to begin to do something about it,” New York Times investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen told Sputnik.
Risen called outrageous the charges brought by Turkish President Erdogan and the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) against Can Dundar, editor of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, as well as Erdem Gul, Ankara bureau chief, after they published evidence of MIT arms deliveries to Syria.
Risen is author of number books on the Central Intelligence Agency, US finances and the War on Terror that have triggered significant public discourse. Risen was awarded the Pulitzer prize for his work on the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program under President George W. Bush.
In writings, including the book “Potus and Beyefendi,” Tanis brought to light the illegal dealings of Erdogan and his inner circle with Kurdish oil.
“Of course, the fight against the Islamic State is a priority for the US right now. But press freedom should also be at the top. Because it is threatening US national security as well, if journalists cannot report on what is going on in Turkey, and cannot cover the incidents in Turkey properly,” Tanis noted.
Tanis pointed out that Erdogan has managed to gain and consolidate great power in Turkey.
“He does not care about basic fundamental rights in Turkey, he does not believe in press freedom, because he expects journalists to support the government no matter what,” Tanis claimed.
Risen and Tanis both agreed that it is not very realistic to expect more pressure to be applied on Ankara because Turkey is a close partner of the United States and a NATO ally.
However, that is exactly what should be done, both out of concern for US security and to restore the US role as “the guardian of press freedom.”
Can Dundar and Erdem Gul have been detained since their arrest in November 2015, and Turkey’s public prosecutors requested aggravated life sentences without the possibility of being pardoned.