News Column

Discrimination against Zaman journalist draws ire

May 30, 2014

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The Turkish government has been strongly criticized by media circles after Zaman daily UK representative Kadir Uysaloglu was asked to leave when Turkey's finance minister commenced a speech at the Financial Times' head office in London on Thursday.

Uysaloglu said that only representatives of the state-run Anadolu news agency were given permission by FT to attend Mehmet Simsek's speech. He added that FT officials later allowed him to join the program, but shortly after Simsek started his speech, he was asked to leave the room.

Speaking to the Cihan news agency after the incident, Uysaloglu stated that FT official Wendy Wong told him that Turkish Finance Ministry officials had requested that he leave the room.

Pinar TÜrenÇ, president of the Turkish Press Council, lambasted officials for the incident and said the media had not experienced such restrictions in the past, adding that there can be no freedom in a country that does not have freedom of the press.

"It is not possible to accept a journalist, who holds a press card and represents a media outlet in another country, being kicked out during a Turkish minister's speech. Recently there have been attempts to restrict critical media in such meetings or speeches. I think this is not acceptable in terms of freedom of the press," she added.

Media Ethics Council (MEK) President Halit Esendir, also expressed his frustration regarding the incident involving Uysaloglu. Recalling that Simsek was giving a speech about investment in Turkey, Esendir said the incident is a clear violation of basic freedom of the press and people's right to be informed. "I am hoping that we won't experience such an incident again and I urge authorities to respect freedom of the press," he added.

Also in April, journalist Tugba Mezararkali was told by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change her job and leave the Zaman daily during a press conference. Prime Minister Erdogan had told the correspondent from the Zaman daily, which he associates with the so-called "parallel state," to leave her job while speaking to journalists at Istanbul AtatÜrk Airport before catching a flight to Azerbaijan.

This was not the first time Erdogan had targeted Zaman reporters asking him questions on various occasions.

On Feb. 3, Erdogan declared Zaman reporter Dervis GenÇ, who asked the prime minister a question on corruption allegations after a major graft investigation became public on Dec. 17 of last year, a speaker for the "parallel state" during a press conference held at the same airport before a visit to Germany.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CIHAN

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Source: Cihan News Agency (Turkey)