Turkish Sports Ministry refutes claims on seizure of DW interview

Turkish Sports Ministry refutes claims on seizure of DW interview

Turkish Sports Ministry refutes claims on seizure of DW interview

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Turkey’s Youth and Sports Ministry has issued a statement over reports on the seizure of an interview by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) with Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, saying it did not reflect the truth.

“Our request to not publish the interview was conveyed to the related TV officials over the usage of ‘excessive expressions and accusations’ by the presenter during the interview, which was conducted on a tape recording. Our disposition regarding the interview not to be published over our request is the ‘authorization’ rule that is sensitively applied in the country [Germany], which is the broadcasting center of the related media outlet, to be fulfilled,” the ministry said in a statement.

Meeting with DW’s Conflict Zone host Michel Friedman at the ministry’s building in Ankara on Sept. 5, Kılıç responded to the questions asked on topics related to recent developments in Turkey such as the coup attempt of July 15, the widespread round-ups that have occurred in its aftermath, the situation of the Turkish press and the place of women in Turkish society. Kılıç was also asked to clarify President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks made on these issues. 

However, earlier reports had suggested that the DW team was told during their exit that they could not publish the interview and could not leave the premises without handing over the recording.

DW General Director Peter Limbourg had harshly criticized the act, saying it was a clear violation of press freedom in Turkey.

“This is a clear violation of freedom of press in Turkey once again. What was done here was compulsion by the Turkish government. This does not have anything to do with the state of law and principles of democracy. It is not acceptable for a minister to give an interview on his own consent and then attempt to prevent its publication just because he did not like the questions. We demand the Turkish side quickly return our recording and are exploring legal steps that can be taken,” Limbourg said.

Meanwhile, Germany said on Sept. 7 that it regarded press freedom as crucial, while commenting on the seizure incident, as reported by Reuters.

“Press freedom is for us... non-negotiable. We behave [according to this principle] at home and we represent it abroad,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said.

A German foreign ministry spokesman also said Berlin’s ambassador to Ankara had held “good and constructive” talks with a senior official in the sports minister’s office and that they agreed the incident should not enflame tensions between the countries.

“[The ambassador] made clear that for us, for him, for the German government and German media, press freedom is very important,” the spokesman told a regular news conference.