In journalists' detentions, Turkey is committed to rule of law

Monday, March 14, 2011; 8:05 PM

Readers of the March 11 editorial "Turkey's poor example," about the recent detention of journalists in Turkey, will benefit from more background about a complicated matter.

The chief prosecutor in this case has stated that the journalists were taken into custody based on solid evidence unrelated to their work as journalists. As in any free, democratic society, Turkey's legal system enshrines the cardinal principle of "innocent until proven guilty," and due process is unequivocally and unsparingly accorded to all those accused in this case. The rule of law is a fundamental tenet of Turkish democracy. Turkey's judicial system is fully integrated into the European legal structures, and individuals tried under our system enjoy the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Freedom of expression and media are safeguarded by Turkish legislation. Turkey is committed not only to maintaining these protections, but also, where necessary, to expanding their scope with an aim to address possible shortcomings. We agree that continuing to guarantee fundamental freedoms is essential to further strengthening Turkey's democracy and its standing as an inspiration to many in the world. That said, while the relevant cases are pending, it would be imprudent to arrive at hasty conclusions.

Namik Tan, Washington

The writer is Turkey's ambassador to the United States.

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