Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has ended his three-day state visit to the UK by insisting that all the journalists locked in Turkish jails were terrorist criminals, ignoring a warning from Theresa May not to lose sight of democratic values as he sought to defend his country from “the extraordinary pressures of a failed coup and Kurdish terrorism”.
At a press conference in Downing Street alongside May, Erdoğan made no reference to May’s remarks about human rights, but instead urged her to do more to extradite Turkish exiles from the Gulenist or Kurdish movements, saying that if she did not act act against terrorists, it would come back to bite her.
May, eager to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal with Turkey, said the UK was always prepared to extradite Kurdish terrorists if the evidence was provided. Erdoğan believes that the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, currently in the US, was behind the 2016 failed military coup. May said that while it was right that those who sought to overthrow a democratically elected government were brought to justice, “it is also important that in the defence of democracy… Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend”.
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