Acclaimed novelist Paul Auster hit back at Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday, saying that there are nearly one hundred writers falsely imprisoned in Turkey. Earlier in the week, Auster refused to visit Turkey in protest of the jailing of the journalists, drawing the ire of Erdogan, who accused the author of a double standard for supporting Israel.
In a statement, Auster wrote that "whatever the Prime Minister (of Turkey Erdogan) might think about the state of Israel, the fact is that free speech exists there and no writers or journalists are in jail... There are nearly one hundred writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent publishers such as Ragip Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world." Auster is a Jewish American author of dozens of highly acclaimed novels.
Earlier in the week, Turkish PM Erdogan decried Auster's boycott of Turkey, asking, "If you come so what? If you don't come, so what? Will Turkey lose prestige?" Erdogan's comments drew applause from provincial leaders of his ruling AK Party at a meeting in the capital Ankara.
"Supposedly Israel is a democratic, secular country, a country where freedom of expression and individual rights and freedoms are limitless. What an ignorant man you are," Erdogan said.