Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has intensified his aggressive language against the foreign media coverage of Turkey, accusing CNN International’s İstanbul correspondent Ivan Watson, who was detained on air during the Gezi anniversary protests on May 31, of being an “agent”, an accusation that has drawn the criticisms of press freedom advocacy groups in Turkey.
“A flunky from CNN was trying to do something [at Taksim Square on May 31]. CNN International conducted an eight-hour broadcast during last year’s Gezi events. Why? To stir up trouble in my country. This year, they were caught red-handed,” said Erdoğan during his address to his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.
“They have nothing to do with free, impartial and independent media. They are given special tasks. They serve as agents. That is why they are here,” he said.
CNN’s Watson was detained at Taksim Square while filming a live news report on the demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the Gezi protests. Watson and his staff were released half an hour later and the İstanbul Police Department said it was not a detention but a check of their credentials.
During the first anniversary of Gezi protests, 25,000 police officers stationed around İstanbul’s Taksim square to prevent any demonstration, and more than 150 people detained by police but released eventually. Erdoğan bashed on judiciary for releasing protesters calling the judges as “parallel,” a term he is using people affiliated with the Hizmet movement, inspired by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who lives in self-imposed exile in the US.
Erdoğan once again gave the police a pat on the back for their attitude during the crackdown on the anniversary of the Gezi protests, saying the protesters were unable to achieve their goal of creating chaos on May 31 thanks to the “firm stance” of the police… see more