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Journalists attacked by Erdoğan’s bodyguards in US

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Journalists and protestors critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were attacked by presidential body guards in Washington as Erdoğan was readying to give a speech at the Brookings Institution on Thursday.

Amberin Zaman, a Turkish journalist with the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, tweeted that a member of Erdoğan’s security details called her a “PKK whore” for standing in the driveway. The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Turkey.

Another journalist Mahir Zeynalov, who was deported from Turkey because of his views critical of the government, posted a video on Twitter which showed Turkish journalist, Adem Yavuz Arslan, the former Ankara Bureau Chief of Bugün daily, who also resides in the US due to intense pressure from the government, being physically pushed away from the area.

Zeynalov also posted a picture on Twitter of Erdoğan’s guards manhandling protestors and journalists outside the Brookings Institution building.

Adem Yavuz Arslan who was thrown out of the building by Erdoğan’s bodyguards was later escorted back into the premises of the Brookings Institution where he took his place among other journalists.

However, in another incident, staunchly pro-government journalist Turgay Güler, took Arslan’s picture, and posted it on Twitter threatening to “smack him one” if he was to ask a question that would “bring shame on the country [Turkey]” by asking Erdoğan a question.

US media said that local police officers rushed in to try to calm the situation, but that some of them warned the Turkish leader’s security guards that they needed to retreat and let the protesters have their say. “You’re part of the problem, you guys need to control yourselves and let these people protest,” US-based Foreign Policy reported one police officer as saying.

Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) are now infamous for their intolerance of critical media, as earlier in March Turkey’s highest-circulation daily, Zaman, was seized in a government-backed operation and handed over to trustees.

Police cladded in riot gear and gas masks and equipped with truncheons pushed back supporters who stood in the rain outside the İstanbul headquarters where they carried placards reading “Hands off my newspaper” and “Free media cannot be silenced” before they were choked by clouds of tear gas.

The trustees, who known to have strong links with the party, have already fired hundreds of Zaman and Today’s Zaman employees.



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