Istanbul / AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he took offence at US President Barack Obama slamming eroding press freedoms in Turkey, expressing sadness that the comments were made behind his back.
“I am saddened that these kinds of comments have been made in my absence,” Erdogan told Turkish reporters in Washington as he rounded off a trip to the United States. “These issues did not come onto the agenda in our talks with Mr Obama.” “He did not talk to me about this kind of thing. In our previous telephone conversations we talked about other more useful things than press freedom,” the Hurriyet daily and other newspapers quoted him as saying.
Obamaâ€”who met Erdogan in Washington for closed door talks on Thursdayâ€”said on Friday it was “no secret” he was troubled by “some trends” within Turkey. “I think the approach they have been taking toward the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling,” said Obama.
The US leader said he had expressed these sentiments to Erdogan “directly”.
Erdogan said he had pointed out in other meetings on his trip in Washington that there was press freedom in Turkey, saying that Turkish publications were calling him things like “thief” and “killer” without being shut down.