ISTANBUL (Reuters) — Turkey’s prime minister said he had no regard for Europe’s “red line” on press freedom on Tuesday and warned Ankara would not be brought to heel with threats, rejecting criticism of the detention of senior journalists at an opposition newspaper.
Police detained the editor and top staff of Cumhuriyet, a pillar of the country’s secularist establishment, on Monday, on accusations that the newspaper’s coverage had helped precipitate a failed military coup in July.
The United States and European Union both voiced concern about the move in Turkey, a NATO ally which aspires to EU membership. European Parliament President Martin Schulz wrote on Twitter that the detentions marked the crossing of ‘yet another red-line’ against freedom of expression in the country.
“Brother, we don’t care about your red line. It’s the people who draw the red line. What importance does your line have,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told members of his ruling AK Party in a speech in parliament.
“Turkey is not a country to be brought in line with salvoes and threats. Turkey gets its power from the people and would be held accountable by the people.”
Prosecutors accuse staff at Cumhuriyet, one of few media outlets still critical of President Tayyip Erdogan, of committing crimes on behalf of Kurdish militants and the network of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating the July coup attempt.