Turkey's Erdogan Slams the New York Times: Know Your Place

President attacks the newspaper over an editorial that accused him of intimidating critics, says it amounts to 'meddling in internal Turkish affairs.'

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Haaretz
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, May 25, 2015.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, May 25, 2015.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the New York Times on Monday over a May 22 editorial that accused him of consolidating power and intimidating the free press.

“Who are you?" Erdogan said about the Times at a panel in Istanbul. "Can you write such a thing against the U.S. administration? If you do, [the White House] would immediately do what is necessary."

Erdogan went on to call the editorial "shameless" and said it was "meddling in Turkey’s affairs,” according to Hurriyet.

Last Friday, Turkish police launched an operation to detain dozens of people perceived to be supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan's ally-turned-foe. The move, which included outlawing opposition media outlets, was also seen as a crackdown on the free press.

At the same time, a prosecutor has filed a criminal compliant against Hurriyet editors over a headline he said suggested Erdogan could share the same fate as ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, for whom an Egyptian court has sought the death penalty. Hurriyet has rejected the allegations.

The New York Times editorial, titled "Dark Clouds Over Turkey," accused Erdogan of being "increasingly hostile to truth-telling." "While the country has faced tough political campaigns before, this one is especially vicious and the mood seems unusually dark and fearful," it said, citing the crackdown on media outlets and the complaint filed against Hurriyet.

"After more than a decade of amassing power as Turkey’s leader," the editorial added, "Mr. Erdogan could be on the verge of realizing his dream of changing the Constitution to make the president, rather than the prime minister, the leading political authority."

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