Turkey's Erdogan rejects 'lessons in democracy' from West

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Ankara (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday lashed out at the West for giving Turkey "lessons in democracy", rejecting mounting US and EU criticism over an alleged clampdown on press freedoms under his rule.

"Those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights must first contemplate their own shame," Erdogan told a meeting of the Turkish Red Crescent in Ankara.

US President Barack Obama warned last week that Turkey's approach towards the media was taking it "down a path that would be very troubling."

Erdogan's comments came as local media reported the fresh arrest of five opposition journalists on Monday, without giving details on who they were.

Turkey's government has been accused of increasing authoritarianism and muzzling critical media as well as lawmakers, academics, lawyers and NGOs.

Two journalists from the leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet face life in prison after being charged with revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of seeking to illicitly deliver arms to rebels in Syria.

Erdogan met with Obama in Washington last week, and defended press freedom in Turkey, saying some publications had branded him a "thief" and a "killer" without being shut down.

"Such insults and threats are not permitted in the West," he claimed.

Erdogan on Monday again slammed the Constitutional Court for allowing the two journalists to be released during their trial. The reporters had spent three months in detention until the decision was handed down in February.

He said that the Constitutional Court had "betrayed its very existence" with the ruling.

On Monday, a Turkish court issued arrest warrants for several opposition journalists, five of whom were detained, local media reported.

They are accused of of violating legal confidentiality by reporting on a corruption scandal which engulfed Erdogan's inner circle in 2013/14 and was centred on the illicit trading of gold with Iran.

The reporters are also accused of belonging to a "terrorist group" -- the usual official parlance for the grouping run by Erdogan's arch foe Fethullah Gulen who is accused of being behind the graft claims.

- 'Wild Man of the Bosphorus' -

The fresh crackdown comes after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he was unhappy about the raft of stories criticising Erdogan in German media in recent weeks.

In a telephone call Davutoglu complained such stories "were incompatible with freedom of the press" and said there should be an end to the publication of such "unacceptable" material, he office said.

German weekly Der Spiegel ran a cover story deeply critical of Erdogan in its latest issue, with a caricature of the Turkish president -- whom the magazine called "the wild man of the Bosphorus" -- shaking his fist.

He looms large over a tiny Merkel, holding an EU briefcase with her head in her hand, while a paper airplane cut out of a newspaper pokes him in the backside.

The headline on the story read: "The fearsome friend: President Erdogan's crusade against freedom and democracy."

It is not the first time Germany has irked Ankara with its coverage of Erdogan.

Last month Turkey summoned Germany's ambassador to protest a two-minute song lampooning Erdogan that was broadcast on German television.

The TV show responded by re-broadcasting the tune "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan" that ridicules the president, and adding Turkish subtitles.

The satirical song charges, among other things, that "a journalist who writes something that Erdogan doesn't like/Will be in jail by tomorrow".

The row comes as the EU is accused of selling out its principles by offering Turkey visa-free travel and a fast-racked EU membership process, in exchange for help on the migrant crisis.

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