US denies changing 'perception management' of Turkey

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Monday said there was no campaign to change perceptions of Turkey.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Monday said there was no campaign to change perceptions of Turkey.

WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Monday denied claims of a U.S. operation aimed at changing perceptions of Turkey.

Turkey was criticised last week in a U.S. based non-governmental organization Freedom House report for having biggest setbacks in press freedom last year and became the only country in Europe to be designated "not free."

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu criticized the May 1 report as “perception management.”

Asked whether such a campaign exists, Harf told journalists, “Absolutely not at all. Not at all, period.”

“What I think would change the way people look at Turkey is if they unblocked YouTube, if they didn’t block Twitter. I think that’s what drives people other places to say, ‘Hey, maybe freedom of expression isn’t that great in Turkey right now,’” Harf said.

The report cited imprisoned journalists in Turkey as a major factor.

Turkish Minister Davutoglu said the jailed press members were punished “because of their illegal acts and connivance with terrorist organizations.”

“The report does not even mention the twelve released journalists; this is an operation to change perceptions towards Turkey," said Davutoglu.

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