12/14/2014 01:56 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2015

U.S. Calls On Turkey To Support Press Freedom Following Media Raids

WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department called on Turkish authorities to protect media freedom and other democratic values in response to media raids and detentions in operations across Turkey on Sunday.

The State Department was closely following reports of the raids and arrests, and media outlets that have been openly critical of the current Turkish government appeared to be among the targets of the actions by Turkish law enforcement, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"Media freedom, due process, and judicial independence are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined in the Turkish constitution," Psaki said in a statement. "As Turkey's friend and ally, we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate these core values and Turkey's own democratic foundations."

Turkish police raided media outlets close to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric and detained 24 people including top executives and ex-police chiefs in operations against what President Tayyip Erdogan calls a terrorist network conspiring to topple him.

The raids on Zaman daily and Samanyolu television marked an escalation of Erdogan's battle with former ally Fetullah Gulen, with whom he has been in open conflict since a graft investigation targeting Erdogan's inner circle emerged a year ago.

The European Union had earlier condemned the raids in EU-aspirant Turkey. In an unusually strongly worded statement, it said the raids were incompatible with media freedom and ran counter to European values. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Catherine Evans)