U.S. "seriously concerned" about Turkey’s targeting of dissidents

In the wake of reports of a Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy saying Turkish journalists in exile could face extrajudicial killings, the U.S. State Department made the following statement to Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News:

We are seriously concerned about the pattern of Turkish officials taking actions that appear to target those whose views differ from the government.

We firmly believe that freedom of expression, including for speech and the media – even speech which some find controversial or uncomfortable – strengthens democracy and need to be respected and protected.

We urge Turkey to respect and ensure freedom of expression, fair trail guarantees, judicial independence, and other human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Aydın Ünal, former speech writer for Turkey’s President Erdoğan, who is currently serving as an Ankara deputy for the AKP, wrote on Dec. 4 that followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen could soon face "organisation executions" when they ceased to be useful to the group.

Naming eight people, most of them journalists who used to work at the Gülen movement-affiliated Zaman newspaper and are now living in exile, Ünal wrote:

They should prepare for the extrajudicial organisational executions approaching... Even if you escape organisational executions, the lamentations of the "foolish" members you abandoned to their fate here is going to finish you.