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5 Jan, 2018 18:54

Erdogan accuses journalists of nurturing terrorists in bizarre Paris press conference

Erdogan accuses journalists of nurturing terrorists in bizarre Paris press conference

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused journalists of nurturing terrorism through their writing. The Turkish president made the comments during his first official bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris Friday, Erdogan appeared to give short shrift to French concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey following the regime’s crackdown on the media in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

"Terror doesn’t form by itself. Terror and terrorists have gardeners. These gardeners are those people viewed as thinkers. They water ... from their columns on newspapers,” Erdogan said. "And one day, you find, these people show up as a terrorist in front of you."

Macron told his Turkish counterpart that democratic countries had to respect the rule of law in their fight against terrorism. “Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism... But at the same time our democracies must completely protect the rule of law,” the French president said.

Macron told the media after the talks that he had raised the cases of specific journalists with Erdogan, but declined to say which ones. Ahead of the meeting Macron had voiced concerns about freedom of expression and the jailing of journalists in Turkey.

Spokesperson for the Turkish president, İbrahim Kalın, said at a press conference prior to the meeting that Macron’s remarks are based on a “lack of information,” if not “prejudice,”Hurriyet reported.

Kalin claimed that the government can’t intervene in the judiciary and said “the fact that a person is a journalist does not necessarily mean they are innocent and cannot commit a crime.” He added that Erdoğan will present documents to Macron showing that those journalists are being prosecuted “not because of journalistic activities.”

In September, French journalist Loup Bureau, who was detained in a Turkish prison for more than seven weeks on “terror” charges, returned to France after Macron petitioned Erdoğan directly for his release.