Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has told the US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone to stop interfering with his country’s judiciary system.
“Ambassadors should mind their own business. They should stay away from assessments that mean interference in Turkey's judiciary and domestic affairs,” Anatolia news agency quoted Bozdag as saying on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Ricciardone had criticized Turkey’s judiciary for “lengthy pre-trial detentions, lack of clarity in presenting charges, lack of transparency.”
The US ambassador highlighted the incarceration of military and political figures.
“You have your military leaders, who were entrusted with the protection of this country, behind bars as if they were terrorists,” Ricciardone said. “You have members of parliament who have been behind bars for a long time, sometimes on unclear charges.”
Huseyin Celik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), took Ricciardone to task for “not learning not to overstep his boundaries” in defiance of warnings from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In September 2012, 300 retired and active military officers were handed down jail sentences for plotting to unseat Erdogan while hundreds more are still in jail pending trial.
Dozens of journalists, lawyers, politicians, and MPs are also held in custody facing charges of anti-government plots to link to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The row between NATO allies comes nearly one week after an explosion outside the US embassy in Ankara killed at least two people and wounded several others.