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Turkey Criticizes US Remarks on Press Freedoms

The recently-appointed U.S. ambassador to Turkey has drawn criticism for his comments concerning press freedoms.

Turkish media on Thursday reports a backlash from several Turkish officials after U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said on Wednesday that Washington is trying to understand why Turkey detains journalists despite a policy of supporting a free press.

Turkish journalist Soner Yalcin and three colleagues were held this week in connection with an alleged plot to unseat the government. Prosecutors are reviewing the charges.

Several officials of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government reacted by saying the U.S. envoy should not interfere in Turkey's domestic affairs.

President Obama gave Ricciardone a recess appointment in late December after his nomination was blocked in Congress. His term will run out at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, Turkey is courting more foreign ownership of private media.

The Turkish Parliament passed a law this week doubling the size of stakes that they can hold. Turkey last week approved the sale of the TV channel it administers to Al-Jazeera.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.