U.S.2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report : Turkey and Belgium…


The 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

“The 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the international drug trade in Calendar Year 2010. Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes.”

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Turkey

A. Introduction

Turkey is affected by three main heroin drug trafficking routes, namely: the Balkan route, the northern (Black Sea) route and the eastern Mediterranean route. Cocaine enters Turkey from South America. Cannabis enters Turkey through Lebanon, Albania and Afghanistan. Turkey acts as a transit route for opium and its derivates originating from Afghanistan en route to Western Europe, for methamphetamine from Iran for markets in the Far East, and also acts as a transit route for captagon tablets originating in Eastern Europe en route to countries in the Middle East.

Heroin is smuggled over land from Afghanistan, sometimes through Pakistan, to Iran and then to Turkey. Opiates and hashish are also smuggled to Turkey overland from Afghanistan via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. While the Balkan Route on to Western Europe remains heavily used, intelligence and investigations suggest that traffickers also use a more northerly route through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine. In addition to use of the northern route, traffickers are using vehicle ferries to move TIR (long-haul, customs-sealed) trucks from Greece and Turkey to Italy. From Italy, the TIRs are driven to other countries in Europe where the heroin, smuggled in either hidden compartments or within legitimate cargo, is delivered. The total amount of opium seized in Turkey remains relatively small when compared to heroin seizures. Most of the heroin trafficked via Turkey is marketed in Western Europe, although some heroin and opium is also smuggled from Turkey to the U.S. Turkish law enforcement authorities continue to seize synthetic drugs that have been manufactured in Northern and Eastern European countries. The majority of the synthetic drug seizures have occurred as the drugs were being shipped through Turkey to countries in the Middle East.

Turkish-based traffickers control much of the heroin marketed to Western Europe. Large drug trafficking organizations and major traffickers based in Turkey are frequently involved in both heroin sales and transport, and several have also been involved in the production and/or smuggling of synthetic drugs. Many major traffickers based in Turkey are ethnic Kurds or Iranians, and many of the same individuals and families have been involved in smuggling contraband for years. Ethnic Kurds generally live in the areas where opiates enter Turkey from the east; however, in recent years, large numbers of ethnic Kurds (including smugglers) have moved to larger cities in Turkey and even to other countries in Europe. Some have continued drug smuggling in their new locations. Some criminal elements in Turkey reportedly have interests in heroin laboratories operating in Iran near the Iranian-Turkish border. In recent years, however, there appears to be more heroin arriving in Turkey as a finished product from Afghanistan. There is no appreciable cultivation of illicit narcotics in Turkey other than cannabis grown primarily for domestic consumption. Turkey and India are the two traditional licit opium-growing countries recognized by the USG and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Opium for pharmaceuticals is cultivated and refined in Turkey under strict domestic controls and in accordance with international treaty obligations. The Turkish Grain Board strictly and successfully controls Turkey’s licit opium poppy cultivation and pharmaceutical morphine production program, with no apparent diversion into the illicit market. Drug abuse remains modest in scale in Turkey compared to other countries.

Turkish law enforcement organizations focus their efforts on stemming the traffic of drugs and intercepting precursor chemicals. The Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime of the Turkish National Police (TNP), Jandarma, and Coast Guard are all part of the Ministry of Interior and have significant anti-narcotics responsibilities. The TNP has responsibility for law enforcement in Turkey’s cities and towns. The Jandarma, a paramilitary police organization, is responsible for all law enforcement in rural areas. TNP-developed intelligence frequently leads to rural areas where the Jandarma has jurisdiction and, in these cases, the two agencies work together to conduct investigations and effect seizures. The Undersecretariat of Customs falls under the authority of a State Minister. The narcotics enforcement arm of Turkish Customs is the Directorate General of Customs Guards. There are eighteen regional directorates and 136 subunits. The Ministry of Health is the competent authority for issues relating to importation of chemicals for legitimate use. The Ministry of Finance oversees the financial intelligence unit, known by its Turkish acronym as MASAK, which has responsibility for investigation of potential money laundering activities.

Drug proceeds are often moved to and through Turkey via the informal sector, despite the fact that alternative remittance systems are illegal in Turkey and only banks and authorized money transfer companies are officially allowed to move money. In general, investigations of money exchange bureaus, jewelry stores, and other businesses in Turkey believed to be part of the underground banking system (hawala) are initiated only if the business is directly tied to an existing drug or other criminal investigation.

Turkey is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Turkey is also a party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.

B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends

1. Institutional Development

Turkish law enforcement agencies are strongly committed to disrupting narcotics trafficking. The Turkish National Police (TNP) remains Turkey’s most proactive counternarcotics force, with the Jandarma and Customs continuing to play a significant role. Turkish authorities continue to seize large amounts of heroin and precursor chemicals. Given the scale of these seizures, it is likely that multi-ton amounts of heroin are smuggled through Turkey each year.

Although Turkey is a major donor to the UNODC, it is still eligible for bilateral assistance and assistance for projects that are regional in nature, and the UN funds a variety of projects in Turkey each year. UNODC continues to sponsor training sessions at the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) in Ankara. In 2009, TADOC organized 60 training programs for 1500 local and regional law enforcement officers. A total of 51 programs for 816 foreign officers were held at TADOC in 2009, including officers from 25 countries including, Azerbaijan, Israel, Sudan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. Students from Palestine also attended the academy. These training programs focused on drug law enforcement, intelligence analysis, illegal immigration and human smuggling, interview techniques, surveillance techniques, and antiterrorism training for judges and prosecutors. TADOC also trained a total of 639 Turkish officers in computer-based training centers throughout Turkey in 2009. TADOC organized 51 programs for 800 participants from the NATO-Russia Council, UNODC, OSCE, the Turkish International Cooperations and Development Agency (TIKA) and several other mutual security cooperation activities.

Turkish law enforcement cooperates closely with European and U.S. agencies. Turkey continues to play a key role in Operation Containment (a DEA regional program to reduce the flow of Afghan heroin to Western Europe), as well as in other regional efforts.

During 2010, Turkish counternarcotics officials began a series of efforts to address the increase in narcotic smugglers using international airports to smuggle illegal drugs either from Turkey or through Turkey. Since the inception of this program in January 2010, 133 couriers were arrested and over 329 kilograms of illegal drugs were seized, a dramatic increase from the previous year.

2. Supply Reduction

The Government of Turkey (GOT) devotes significant financial and human resources to counternarcotics activities. Many Border control initiatives and upgrades were completed in the last few years, including the deployment of x-ray machines and ion scanners to the Eastern borders of Turkey.

Turkey continues to serve as a transit point for large amounts of heroin being smuggled to Western Europe. Turkish-based traffickers and brokers operate in conjunction with narcotics smugglers, laboratory operators, and money launderers in and outside Turkey, who finance and control the smuggling of opiates to Turkey from Afghanistan.

The chart below summarizes the seizures made in Turkey in the January-June 2010 period.

Heroin

8,167 kg

Hashish

26,778 kg

Opium

476 kg

Cocaine

184 kg

ATS

155 kg

Ecstasy

352,733 dosage units

Methamphetamine

87 kg

Turkish authorities reported an increase in synthetic drug seizures throughout Turkey beginning in 2005. Most of the amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) seized in Turkey is produced in Eastern Europe. Turkish law enforcement reports some synthetic drug production, primarily amphetamines such as Captagon (the brand name for fenethylline). Amphetamine production is a relatively new phenomenon in Turkey.

3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment

Drug-related treatment in Turkey is the responsibility of the Science Committee for Methods of Drug Addiction. The main tasks of this committee are to monitor, accredit and evaluate treatment services. Drug-related treatment is provided mainly by public agencies, but private entities and NGOs supplement government efforts. Funding for drug treatment services is mainly provided by the state and through health insurance funds.

Turkey prefers treatment methods which do not rely on opiate-based replacement drugs like methadone and buprenorphine. They believe treatment structured in this way is more likely to achieve a future drug-free life for addicts. The interventions in drug-free programs consist of psychotherapeutic methods and supporting methods, with the majority of drug related treatment services taking place within inpatient settings.

Treatment usage data in Turkey is provided by the Directorate General for Treatment Services of the Ministry of Health. In 2007, data was gathered from 17 national inpatient centers, out of the 19 inpatient centers. During 2007, a total of 2,492 inpatient clients entered treatment, out of which 1,394 were first-time clients. Data regarding clients suggest that 43.7 percent of all clients entering treatment reported opiates as their primary drug of abuse, followed by 36.4 percent for cannabis and 3.9 percent for cocaine. Among first time clients, a slightly different distribution was identified, with 46.4 percent for cannabis, followed by 32.5 percent for opiates and 4.5 percent for ecstasy. Furthermore, in 2007, 34 percent of all clients entering treatment were aged less than 25 years. A higher share of young people was reported among new treatment clients, with 42 percent under the age of 25 years. As far as gender distribution is concerned 95 percent of all clients were male percent. A similar distribution in gender was reported among first time treatment clients with 96 percent male and 4 percent female.

While drug abuse remains modest in scale in Turkey compared to other countries, the number of addicts using treatment clinics is increasing. Although the Turkish Government is increasingly aware of the need to combat drug abuse, the agencies responsible for drug awareness and treatment remain under-funded. The Health Ministry does not conduct regular, periodic drug abuse surveys. The most recent European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD Survey) was conducted in 2003. According to the result of this study, 5 percent of the sample reported the use of inhalants at least once in their life (lifetime prevalence), 4 percent cannabis, 2 percent ecstasy, 2 percent heroin, and 2 percent cocaine. Prevalence of cannabis use within the last year was reported as 5 percent and within the last month as 3 percent. The Ministry of Health was planning to conduct the ESPAD in 2007; however, objections from the Ministry of Education with regard to some survey questions resulted in Turkey’s non-participation. The next ESPAD survey will be in 2011; it is not clear if Turkey will participate.

Turkey became a full member of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) after the European Parliament ratified Turkey’s participation in October 2006, following a successful EU twinning project. Turkey’s national focal point for this effort is the Turkish Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, known as TUBIM. TUBIM is charged with collecting data on drug use and addiction in Turkey, reporting on new drugs found in Turkey, and for conducting demand reduction activities.

4. Corruption

As a matter of government policy, Turkey does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Similarly, no senior level government official is alleged to have participated in such activities. As in most countries, it is likely that some corruption is present among enforcement personnel. The Turkish Penal Code outlines specific penalties for official corruption by Turkish Government employees.

C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy Initiatives

The U.S. and Turkey cooperate in law enforcement matters under a 1979 treaty on extradition and mutual assistance in legal matters. The USG wants to capitalize on Turkey’s work as a regional leader in counternarcotics training and education. DEA and the US Embassy in Turkey work closely with Turkish officials to offer regional training opportunities to Turkish Law Enforcement officials throughout the country and at the TADOC center to provide additional investigative and prosecutorial tools to Turkish officials and their international counterparts. Turkey hosts several international counter narcotic forums with the goals to enhance the investigative abilities of both Turkish and other international partners, to increase their willingness to cooperate internationally on joint cases, and to build relationships between the countries’ law enforcement agencies. DEA reports excellent cooperation with Turkish officials. Turkish counternarcotics forces are both professional and technically sophisticated. The U.S. will continue to try to strengthen Turkey’s ability to combat narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, and financial crimes.

D. Conclusion

Turkish law enforcement agencies remain strongly committed to disrupting narcotics trafficking and we expect this commitment to continue into the future. During 2010, Turkey maintained forward momentum in the areas of institution building, supply reduction, demand reduction and treatment. The U.S. will continue to work with Turkish law enforcement agencies to strengthen Turkey’s ability to combat narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, and financial crimes. Embassy Ankara will focus its efforts on utilizing Turkey’s work as a regional leader in counternarcotics training and education. Turkey continues to play a key role in Operation Containment, as well as in other regional efforts. The USG plans to offer regional training opportunities at the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) to provide additional investigative and prosecutorial tools to Turkish officials and their international counterparts. Likewise, UNODC will sponsor training sessions at the TADOC in Ankara, including programs focused on drug law enforcement, intelligence analysis, illegal immigration and human smuggling, interview techniques, surveillance techniques, and antiterrorism training for judges and prosecutors.

 

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Belgium

A. Introduction

With a major world port at Antwerp, an airport with connections throughout Africa, and its proximity to major consumers in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and The Netherlands, Belgium has become a crucial transit point for a variety of illegal drugs, especially cocaine and heroin. Belgium is not a major market for illicit drugs. Methods of shipment vary, but most drugs seized have been found in cargo freight, or taken from couriers using air transportation.

Belgian authorities take a proactive approach to interdicting drug shipments and cooperate with the U.S. and other foreign countries to help uncover distribution rings. However, fighting the drug trafficking problem in Belgium can be difficult due to the large ethnic population centers, language, and cultural differences and the cross-border nature of trafficking. Belgium is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and is a member of the Dublin Group of countries concerned with combating narcotics trafficking.

B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends

1. Institutional Development

Belgium is committed to controlling narcotics, especially the significant transit of narcotics through Belgium. Belgium is a major supporter for Comprehensive Operational Strategic Planning for the Police (COSPOL), which is a new methodology for multinational police cooperation. This program was created by the Police Chiefs Task Force functioning under direction of the European Union. Belgian and other EU police officials have discussed plans to share information in order to create a database of places indicating where illicit lab equipment and drug producing chemicals are shipped and manufactured. The database also includes information on the trade in drug related chemicals and laboratory materials. Belgium also participates in “Drugwatch”, a non-profit information network and advocacy organization that provides policymakers, media and the public with current narcotics information. In cooperation with “Drugwatch”, Belgium is participating in a program focused on monitoring the internet to identify narcotic sale and production in Belgium.

Belgian law enforcement authorities actively investigate individuals and organizations involved in illegal narcotics trafficking. In keeping with Belgium’s drug control strategy, efforts are focused on combating synthetic drugs, heroin and cocaine, and more recently, cannabis. Belgian authorities continue to cooperate closely and effectively with DEA officials stationed in Brussels. At Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport, non-uniformed police search for drug couriers and continue to be effective in that effort. Authorities utilize canine and aerial apprehension strategies on both the local and federal levels to help fight illicit drug production and shipment in Belgium. The Canine Support Service (DSCH) has trained dog teams to search for drugs. Dog teams are used mostly in airports and train stations, while the Aerial Support Service (DSAS) has made a concerted effort to increase the number of hours it spends in the sky in an attempt to detect drug laboratories across the nation. Belgium participates in an initiative to set up a database for European airports. The database is used to transfer narcotic related information to airports throughout Europe in order to increase cooperation among police forces and governments.

Belgium is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Belgium also is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. The US and Belgium have an extradition treaty and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), and in February 2010 the US-Belgium Instruments implementing the US-EU Extradition Agreement and MLAT entered into force. In addition, the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) between the United States and Belgium enables broad bilateral collaboration on drug trafficking investigations and other cross-border offenses. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are stationed at the Port of Antwerp as part of the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI) to target and prescreen containers, together with Belgian Customs inspectors on U.S.-bound sea freight shipments. Belgium also has an MOU with the USG to carry U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDET) on Belgian Navy vessels in the Caribbean Sea.

2. Supply Reduction

Belgium remains a key transit point for illicit drugs bound for The Netherlands, the U.K. and other points in Western Europe. The majority of large cocaine shipments transiting Belgium are bound for The Netherlands, where Colombian groups continue to dominate drug trafficking. Significant seizures continue to be made from sea and air shipments, en route from South and Central America or West Africa. Statistics provided by the Belgian Federal Police (BFP) show that during CY 2009, approximately 4605 kilograms of cocaine were confiscated in Belgium and between January and October 2010, approximately 5132 kilograms of cocaine were seized.

It has been estimated that about 25 percent of drugs from South America moving through Europe eventually transit Belgium, especially cocaine. A large share of these drugs is ultimately shipped to the U.K., The Netherlands, and other points in Western Europe. Antwerp’s port continues to be one of the preferred transit points for cocaine imported to Europe. The flow of cocaine to Belgium is mainly controlled by Colombian organizations with representatives residing in Africa and in Europe. Some Antwerp port employees have been documented in prosecutions as being involved in the receipt and off-loading of cocaine upon arrival at the port. Zaventem National Airport has become a major point of entry for couriers, who hide drugs in their baggage or on their persons. The cocaine originates in South America and transits through either West Africa or other countries in South America. The other active cocaine trafficking groups in Belgium are Surinamese, Chilean, Ecuadorian, and Israeli.

The Port of Antwerp is also an important transit point for cannabis and hashish. The Netherlands continues to supply both marijuana and hashish to Belgian traffickers. Belgium remains a transit country for heroin destined for the British market. Seizures over the past five years and intelligence indicate that Belgium continues to be a secondary distribution and packaging center for heroin coming along the Balkan Route. The Belgian Federal Police have identified commercial (TIR) trucks from Turkey as the single largest transportation mechanism for westbound heroin entering Belgium, although large maritime shipments from Iran have also been encountered.

Turkish groups, predominately from the Kurdish region of Turkey, control most of the heroin trafficked in Belgium. This heroin is principally shipped through Belgium and The Netherlands to the U.K. Authorities find it difficult to penetrate Turkish trafficking groups responsible for heroin shipping and trafficking because of the language barrier and Turkish criminal groups’ reluctance to work with non-Turkish ethnicities. In CY 2009, Belgium authorities seized a new record total amount of heroin at 275 kilograms. Between January and October 2010, approximately 228 kilograms of heroin were seized in Belgium.

Belgium’s role as a transit point for major drug shipments, particularly heroin and cocaine, is more significant than its own production of illegal drugs. However, domestic cultivation of cannabis increasingly involves elaborate, large-scale indoor hydroponic operations in Belgium, particularly near The Netherlands, and increasingly in other regions. Local authorities have noted that the indoor marijuana cultivation is primarily run by Dutch and Belgian groups. Statistics from CY 2009 show that Belgian authorities seized a total of 143,311 cannabis plants. CY 2010 statistics regarding dismantled marijuana operations or seized cannabis plants were not available at the writing of this report.

Hashish and cannabis remain the most widely distributed and used illicit drugs in Belgium. During CY 2009, hashish seizures escalated to over 18,660 kilograms. Between January and October 2010, authorities seized approximately 575 kilograms of hashish in Belgium. The bulk of cannabis seized in Belgium is produced in The Netherlands and Belgium. Statistics from CY 2009 show that Belgian authorities seized 4486 kilograms of marijuana. Then, between January and October 2010 authorities seized approximately 4962 kilograms of marijuana in Belgium.

Belgium produces small amounts of Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) and MDMA/ecstasy. Seizures of ATS and ecstasy have dropped compared to previous years. During CY 2009, Belgian authorities seized 49 kilograms of amphetamine and 31,025 ecstasy tablets. Between January and October 2010, approximately 187 kilograms of amphetamine and 21,786 ecstasy tablets have been seized by Belgian authorities.

Belgium has a substantial licit pharmaceutical product sector. The country manufactures methamphetamine precursors for licit products to a very limited extent, and it is not a final destination for international shipments of these precursors. The illicit ephedrine diversion market is mainly controlled by Mexicans who purchase both legal (i.e., cold medicine and dietary supplements) and illegal ephedrine, and ship it to Mexico, where it is used to produce methamphetamine for distribution in the U.S. Since ephedrine is strictly regulated in the U.S., Belgium and other Western European countries have seen an increase in transshipments of ephedrine and other methamphetamine precursors. In instances where precursor diversion for methamphetamine manufacturing purposes was suspected, Belgian authorities have cooperated by executing international controlled deliveries (ICD) to the destinations, or by seizing the shipments when the ICD is not possible.

Dutch traffickers are also involved in Belgium’s production of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS). As Dutch law enforcement pressures mount on producers of ecstasy and ATS in The Netherlands, some Dutch producers either look to Belgian producers to meet their supply needs, or to establish their own facilities in Belgium. During CY 2009, Belgian authorities seized 2 synthetic drug laboratories; both described as “kitchen labs”, and have also seized 4 synthetic drug waste dumpsites. Between January and March of 2010, one lab site was discovered by Belgian authorities; a GHB production lab. No further CY 2010 lab statistics were available at the writing of this report.

During CY 2009, Belgian authorities encountered and seized 104 liters of GHB, 4.5 kilograms of opium, 1685 kilograms of khat and 9668 pills of benzodiazepines. Between January and October 2010, the BFP have also seized approximately 17 liters of GHB, approximately 1960 pills of benzodiazepines and approximately 774 kilograms of khat.

3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment

Belgium has an active drug education program administered by the regional governments (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels), which targets the country’s youth. These programs include education campaigns, drug hotlines, HIV and hepatitis prevention programs, detoxification programs, and a pilot program for “drug-free” prison sections. Belgium continues to direct its prevention education programs at individuals who influence young people versus young people themselves. In general, Belgian society views teachers, coaches, clergy, and other adults as better suited to deliver the counter-narcotics message to the target audience because they already are known and respected by young people.

4. Corruption

Legal measures exist to combat and punish corruption. No serious cases of corruption related to drugs have been uncovered in Belgium thus far in 2010. Money laundering has been illegal in Belgium since 1993, and the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) (CTIF-CFI) is continually active in efforts to investigate money laundering. Belgium, as a matter of policy, does not encourage or facilitate the manufacture or traffic in narcotics, nor does it encourage or facilitate the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. No senior government officials engaged in such activity.

C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy

The U.S. and Belgium have an outstanding relationship on drug control, regularly sharing drug-related information. Counter narcotics officials in the BFP, Federal Prosecutor’s Office, and Ministry of Justice are fully engaged with their U.S. counterparts. The U.S. continues to coordinate with Belgian authorities to identify and investigate both suppliers and shippers of precursor chemicals. The U.S. trained and certified several Belgian Federal Officers in clandestine laboratory search and seizure methods.

D. Conclusion

The Belgian government and law enforcement are dedicated to combating drug-related crime. One of the primary challenges is the scale of illicit drug transit through Belgian ports. The Belgian government continues to seize drugs. However, with the large amount of cocaine transiting through the Port of Antwerp, increasing the amount of Customs officials focused on drug interdiction would prove helpful and potentially increase seizures and arrests.

Belgium has always been open to international support when targeting illicit drug trafficking and production. The U.S. looks forward to this continued cooperation.

 

 

Other Countries.

   

** Table of ContentsExpanded Version

 ** Money Laundering and Financial Crimes

 Source :

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

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U.S. Will Continue to Engage Turkey / Concerns About Trends in Turkey

 

QUESTION: On Turkey, another week yet, another set of series of arrests – journalists and (inaudible) about 10 people today. Do you have any concern or what does it mean, having concern?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we will monitor ongoing developments in this case. We urge that any investigations or prosecutions proceed in a transparent manner, and we will continue to engage Turkey and encourage an independent, pluralistic media. It’s critical to a healthy democracy. And we will continue our assessments of global press freedoms in our annual Human Rights Report.

QUESTION: Well —

QUESTION: I have a follow-up on that.

MR. CROWLEY: Yep.

QUESTION: Is President Obama aware of the intimidation of reporters in Turkey, and did he bring this issue when he was talking (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, those are questions – that specific, I’ll defer to my colleagues at the White House.

QUESTION: And those —

MR. CROWLEY: And certainly, we, the United States Government, remain focused on these issues.

QUESTION: But don’t you think the intimidation and the arrests of the journalists in Turkey are systematic now? Basically, every 10 days, there are a group of journalists being arrested.

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a hard judgment to make. We have concerns about trends in Turkey, as we have indicated publicly. We continue to engage Turkish officials on these developments and we’ll – and we will follow these cases very closely.

QUESTION: Do you – (inaudible) on that – this goes on and it has been a year, several years for some of the people who have been in jail and trials have been going on. Is there any red line or this (inaudible) is going to go on?

MR. CROWLEY: We – this is an issue that we follow very closely. We are huge advocates of press freedoms around the world, and we monitor these developments as part of our ongoing human rights assessment of Turkey and every other country in the world.

Source 

 

 ** U.S.-Turkey Economic Partnership Commission Holds 6th Meeting 

 

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