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Speaking at the daily press briefing today (October 20), United States Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert was asked by journalists about Osman Kavala and 16 activists, attorneys and journalists being detained in Ankara yesterday (October 19).
Nauert said that they had been following these cases closely and that the detentions in Turkey were often made with very little or no evidence at all and added "We've expressed to the Turkish Government our concerns on many occasions about this trend, this trend of curbs on free speech, detentions, the overall erosion of democratic society".
"A very alarming trend in Turkey: Detentions with very little/no evidence, very little transparency"
Upon being asked by journalists about Osman Kavala and 16 activists, attorneys and journalists being detained in Ankara yesterday, Nauert said:
"We've all followed this story closely. Academics, also activists detained in that country. The detentions are often made without – very little evidence, very little transparency, and we consider that to be a very alarming trend in that country.
"We've expressed to the Turkish Government our concerns on many occasions about this trend – the trend of curbs on free speech, detentions, the overall erosion of democratic society there. So it remains a major concern of ours.
"We also believe a detention such as his chills the public debate. And when you chill the public debate and you prevent people from speaking freely and communicating freely, that that harms that society. So it's something we're watching very closely and is a concern of ours".
"Some good progress on the visa issue"
Asked about the visa talks going on in Turkey and the statement of the State Department yesterday, that there was substantial progress, Nauert said:
"Our deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, Jonathan Cohen is his name, he traveled to Turkey. He recently met with Turkish officials there. Those talks were described to me as productive, that they made substantial progress in the overall agenda. We will remain engaged as a matter of priority to address the relevant issues with a view to restore normal visa procedures swiftly.
"So that's good; that is some good progress. We also talked about the composition and the terms of reference regarding the proposed joint working committee and agreed that the decision would be finalized soon". (EKN/DG)
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