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Turkey slams PACE prize to FETO suspect

Murat Arslan, who was awarded Vaclav Havel prize on Monday, is detained in Turkey for being suspected FETO member

Turkey slams PACE prize to FETO suspect

By Ahmet Sait Akçay


The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced the attribution of the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to a Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) suspect, calling it “unacceptable”. 

PACE announced earlier on Monday that the prize "has been awarded to Turkish supporter of the independence of the judiciary Murat Arslan". 

“It is wrong and unacceptable to award the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to a person who is a member of the FETO terrorist organization, the perpetrator of the coup attempt of July 15,” the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry read. 

The ministry added that such a "mistake" from an EU body that is supposed to protect of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, has seriously damaged the credibility of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). 

“While the judicial process is underway, presenting a terrorism suspect as a human rights defender is a betrayal of the ideals of democracy and human rights. 

“Such an approach serves no other purpose than to aid the circles that support terrorism. We deeply regret that PACE has become an instrument of these political initiatives,” it added. 

Ankara accuses FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen of having orchestrated last year's defeated coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

In April, PACE announced it was placing Turkey on its political monitoring watchlist following an investigation into the country’s democratic institutions -- a move that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he considered as "entirely political".

Turkey is ready to reconsider its position on joining the European Union, Erdogan had said.

"The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly, in partnership with the Vaclav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, to reward outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond," according to the PACE website.

The prize consists of a €60,000 ($70,516) sum, a trophy and a diploma.

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