DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2016
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson
Qs and As w US Spox
No concern over Diyarbakır co-mayors
QUESTION: Turkey arrested two democratically elected co-mayors of Diyarbakir today, and I wanted to know what your response to that is.
MR KIRBY: Give me a second. I have it. So we’re closely monitoring the situation following the detention of the Diyarbakir’s elected co-mayors on charges of supporting terrorism. We strongly condemn, as you know, the PKK’s terrorist attacks, and we again call on the PKK to cease that violence, to renounce terrorism, and to reengage in a peaceful political process that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. There’s no justification for its attacks in Turkey. We urge that any expressions of concern over the co-mayors’ detention be peaceful and in compliance with the law. We also urge Turkish law enforcement and other authorities to act with due restraint and respect for the freedom of expression.
As Turkish authorities investigate allegations that some local officials have participated in or have provided material support to terrorist groups, we note the importance of respect for due process. This, again, is nothing new; we’ve said this time and time again. Respect for due process is enshrined in the Turkish – is as enshrined in the Turkish constitution and will ensure that the results of these investigations will reinforce confidence in the judicial system among Turkish citizens.
QUESTION: Would you go as far as the statement that the EU issued, in which it, quote, “reiterates its call for a political solution: Arms must be laid down…a political solution is the only viable option,” which seems to be directed both towards Ankara and to the Kurds in Turkey? Would you agree with that statement?
MR KIRBY: I think I’ve just reacted to your question about the detention of these two individuals.
QUESTION: Could I – can I interpret it as meaning that you’re basically saying the same thing as the EU, reiterating your call for a political solution, or is there some distance between you and the EU?
MR KIRBY: You were asking me about the detention of these co-mayors, not about a larger strategic goal. But obviously, look, I mean, we’ve said with respect to the PKK that – we’ve long said we want them to renounce violence and terrorism and return to the negotiating table. So I mean, I’m not going to parse or try to match what I’m saying with what the EU is saying. I think in general, though, obviously we share the same ultimate goals as our European partners do.
Uncoordinated Turkish efforts in Syria
QUESTION: One more. Turkish president has insisted today that he would liberate Manbij from YPG. Do you have any reaction to that?
MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen those comments. But again, I would tell you, as I said yesterday, and I think the day before, that we want – uncoordinated military activity, particularly in that area, is not conducive to ultimate success against Daesh. And we want all members of the coalition to focus their efforts against Daesh and to do so in a coordinated fashion.
No Concerns over detained Diyarbakır Co-Mayors
QUESTION: Turkey. Just going back to the detention of the Diyarbakir co-mayors. These are pre-trial detention. Would you urge Turkish Government – or what’s your give on this pre-trial detention without putting them – these are the people elected by 55 percent of the vote, and elected officials.
MR KIRBY: I think I answered that question before, that we would urge Turkish law enforcement and other authorities to act with due restraint and respect for freedom of expression. And as Turkish authorities investigate allegations that some local officials have participated in terrorist acts or are supporting terrorist groups, that we would, again, note the importance of due process.
QUESTION: Human Rights Watch NGO just issued a report two days ago regarding the claims of emergency rule in Turkey, and basically saying that it gives a blank check to Turkey’s security forces. Do you – have you seen the report? Do you have any comment on that?
MR KIRBY: As I understand it, we’re still going through that Human Rights Watch report. I really don’t have much more to comment on that.
Procera Networks spying on Turkish citizens
QUESTION: U.S.-based, California-based company, Procera Networks, apparently it has given software to Turkey, sold software to Turkey, and Turkey – a Turk telecom has been using that to spy on Turkish citizens. It has been a big report, news report in Turkey. Do you have any kind of sanctions on these kind of U.S.-based companies?
MR KIRBY: Again, I’m just not at liberty to comment on claims made by employees or former employees of a private company. I’d refer you to the company for questions like that.
I’ve got time for just a couple more.
130 plus Turkish journalists in jails
QUESTION: Last question. About —
MR KIRBY: Last question? Of like seven or eight? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know, I have more than – I’m sorry about that. There are about over 130 journalists have been – stay in Turkey. Most of them, majority of them put in jail since the emergency rule declared about more than three months ago. And you have not issued any statement regarding over 100 Turkey journalists. Does it mean that – is it not enough or important for you to —
MR KIRBY: Aw, come on.
QUESTION: — express your concern, or —
MR KIRBY: Come on. That isn’t —
QUESTION: You have not issued a statement.
MR KIRBY: I talk about —
QUESTION: But you —
MR KIRBY: — the detention of journalists in Turkey all the time from this podium. You’ve got me on camera saying it a lot. And nothing has changed about our concern about the need for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Turkey. In fact, I’d venture to say, sir, that I have probably talked more about press freedom in Turkey than in any other nation. The State Department has been nothing but clear and candid and forthright, publicly and privately, about our concerns over the state of journalism in Turkey. I stand by everything we’ve said, and that you may not have seen a written statement by me on any given day in the last week or two weeks or three weeks doesn’t mitigate at all the very real concerns that we continue to have.