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Erdogan Tells EU To 'Mind Own Business' In Media Arrests


Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that weekend raids on opposition media outlets were in response to "dirty operations" by political enemies, and told the EU not to interfere.

At least 24 people were arrested in the December 14 raids. They face charges ranging from "using intimidation and threats" to "forming a gang to try to seize state sovereignty," forgery, and "slander."

The raids came under criticism from both the European Union and the United States.

In televised remarks on December 15, Erdogan told Brussels to "mind its own business."

"They cry press freedom, but [the raids] have nothing to do with it," he said.

Erdogan's comments risked further damaging ties between the European Union and Turkey -- already strained by Ankara's irritation over what it sees as Brussels' procrastination over its EU membership bid and the bloc's frustration over Turkish policies on Syria.

Erdogan, referring to Turkey's lack of progress in accession negotiations with the EU, said, "I wonder if those who keep this country at the EU doorstep for 50 years know what this step means?"

His remarks drew a quick response from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini -- who had made her first visit to Turkey in her new post to meet Erdogan only a week ago -- said on December 15 she was "very surprised" by Erdogan's reaction.

Those arrested included the chiefs of a newspaper and television station associated with U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a bitter opponent of Erdogan.

Erdogan has accused Gulen's followers within the police and judiciary of being behind corruption allegations that rattled his government last year and has vowed to go after his group.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington urged Turkey to make sure the raids did not violate its "own democratic foundations."

With additional reporting by reporting by Reuters and AFP
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