WASHINGTON (UPI)–Turkey needs to respect press freedom ahead of its general elections, an advocacy group said Wednesday. The non-profit group Freedom House voiced concern about attempts by the government to intimidate media outlets in recent weeks, pointing out that Kanal Turk TV station has been intimidated by officials to curtail critical reporting, specifically towards the ruling Justice and Development Party. Turkey’s Finance Ministry has been looking into the network’s financial activities as well as personal expenses of employees. "These subtle forms of intimidation have no place in a democratic society and are inconsistent with the positive steps that Turkey has taken in the past six years to improve its ratings in press freedom," said Karin Karlekar, managing editor of Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press survey. "Ensuring a free and open media environment is vital to any healthy democracy, and is particularly important in the months leading up to an election," said the group’s executive director Jennifer Windsor. "We hope that the Turkish government can demonstrate its ability to withstand public scrutiny by respecting all forms of free expression, even those that are critical."