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Turkey Warns U.S. To Butt Out

September 29, 1998

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey protested a U.S. diplomat’s criticism of a jail sentence given Istanbul’s Islamic mayor for reading a religious poem, saying Tuesday its ally should stay out of its domestic affairs.

``We consider comments by a foreigner on a verdict by Turkey’s highest judicial authority as an intervention into our internal affairs,″ the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry registered its objections with the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the capital.

U.S. Consul-General Carolyn Huggins met Monday with Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying afterward that his prosecution served to ``weaken confidence in Turkish democracy.″

Erdogan, who was seen as a future leader of Turkey’s Islamic movement, received a 10-month prison sentence for reading a strident religious poem at a December rally. The sentence, upheld by an appeals court last week, means a lifetime ban from public office.

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