Erdogan criticizes British diplomat for trial tweets, picture

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized British Consul-General Leigh Turner, after the diplomat attended a trial of two Turkish journalists that was closed to the public, sending Tweets about the case and uploading a picture from the trial.

"If this person can still continue service in Turkey, it's only because of our generosity and hospitality," Erdogan was quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu as saying at an event in Istanbul on Monday.

Erdogan was reacting to Turner's tweets (including an uploaded photo) about the trial of Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the editor-in-chief and Ankara correspondent of the government-critical Cumhuriyet newspaper. The journalists are on trial for publishing a report and a video in May about alleged arms shipments from Turkey to Syrian rebels that included extremist groups.

The court ruled that the public would not be allowed to watch the proceedings, but several diplomats, including Turner, who is Britain's consul-general in Istanbul, showed up at the courthouse in Istanbul on Friday, the opening day of proceedings.

Turner wrote on Twitter that the trial is about "Turkey deciding for itself what kind of country it wants to be."

In other countries, diplomats displaying such behaviour would not be tolerated for a day, Erdogan said Monday, according to Anadolu.

Erdogan is a co-plaintiff in the two journalists' trial, whose charges include espionage and supporting a terrorist organization.

"Who are you? What business do you have there?" Erdogan was quoted by Anadolu on Saturday as saying about the diplomats attending the trial. "This is not your country, (this is) Turkey."

Diplomats only have free movement within their missions, the president added.

A number of press freedom groups and human rights organizations have called for the case against Dundar and Gul to be dropped, while European Union officials have described the trial as a test of press freedom in Turkey.

At least 13 journalists remain behind bars in Turkey, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists. Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

Last update: Mon, 28/03/2016 - 17:41

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