US ambassador: Some in Turkish gov’t want vengeance rather than justice

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John Bass, the departing US ambassador to Turkey (Aaron P. Bernstein/AFP)

John Bass, the departing US ambassador to Turkey, on Friday said some in the Turkish government are motivated by “vengeance rather than justice,” voicing concern at coverage in pro-government media outlets of the arrest of a Turkish national working in the İstanbul consulate, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“I am deeply disturbed that some people in the Turkish government prefer to try this case through media outlets rather than properly pursuing the case in a court of law before a judge. That does not strike me as pursuing justice, it seems to me more a pursuit of vengeance,” Bass told reporters in İstanbul on Friday.

As he prepares to leave Ankara for his next assignment in Afghanistan, Bass met this morning with a group of journalists who he identified as representatives of the “serious media.”

Referring to the absence of representatives from a number of outlets particularly close to the Ankara government, the US ambassador said he did not extend the invitation “because I don’t consider them to be journalistic outlets any longer, given the extent to which they deal in fiction and do not follow a basic set of journalistic ethics.”

According to the report, Bass then touched on the subject of the “arrest and charges brought against one of our employees in Istanbul.” His identification of the individual as “one of our employees” is noteworthy given the fact that the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying “he is neither a staff member of the U.S. Consulate nor does he have any diplomatic or consular immunity.”

“I continue to believe that these charges are without merit. I don’t believe there is going to be evidence that substantiates these charges,” said Bass, also voicing displeasure about coverage of the issue in the pro-government media.

“There is a big difference between pursuing justice and pursuing vengeance in terms of the rule of law and the democratic norms that this country, and my country, have committed themselves to, both through the Helsinki charter and their own constitutions,” he added, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

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1 COMMENT

  1. An ambassador’s public “swansong” is normally an upbeat summary of the good relations between the two countries. For an ambassador publically to criticise and denigrate the government to which he has been sent is highly unusual. And it certainly will have required explicit authorisation from Washington DC. So it represents an almost unprecedented ‘calling out’ of the Erdogan regime.

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