WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The arrest of two Turkish journalists on espionage and treason charges raises concerns about freedom of the press in Turkey, US State Department Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.
“We are troubled by the pre-trial arrest yesterday of senior editors of the respected Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. The investigation, criminal charges, and arrest raise serious concerns about the Turkish government’s commitment to the fundamental principle of media freedom,” Toner said on Friday.
On Thursday, Cumhuriyet newspaper Editor-in-Chief Can Dundar and the daily’s Ankara representative Erdem Gul were arrested on charges of espionage and treason after the outlet published photos of Turkish trucks carrying weapons bound for Syria.
"These events are only the latest in a series of judicial and law enforcement actions taken under questionable circumstances against Turkish media outlets critical of the government," Toner said.
Washington also called on Turkish authorities to ensure that all individuals and organizations including the media can freely express different views and criticism.
Local media reported that some 1,000 people gathered near the office of the Cumhuriyet newspaper in Istanbul on Friday in support of the two journalists.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European and International Federations of Journalists have called on Ankara to drop the charges against the reportres.
The controversial article and photos, released by Cumhuriyet in May 2015, claim that Turkish trucks carried artillery shells, machine gun rounds and mortar shells to Syrian opposition forces.
Ankara denied the reports, insisting instead that the vehicles were delivering aid to Syrian Turkmens.