In a move that is likely to cast fresh doubt on the situation of freedom of the press in Turkey, Turkey’s Youth and Sports Ministry has seized video footage of an interview German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) conducted with Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, apparently because the minister had a hard time answering difficult questions, the Turkish news website of DW reported on Tuesday.
Kılıç was interviewed for DW’s flagship political talk show, “Conflict Zone,” by
Michel Friedman at the ministry building in Ankara on Monday evening.
During the interview Friedman asked Kılıç questions about the failed military coup attempt on July 15, mass purges and arrests that began in the aftermath of the putsch, the situation of the Turkish press and the place of Turkish women in society. Kılıç was also asked to elaborate on some remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on these issues.
DW said the minister had been informed earlier about the topics that would be discussed during the interview.
Following the end of the interview, Minister Kılıç bade Friedman farewell and left the room where the interview was held.
While the DW team was preparing to leave the ministry building, the minister’s press advisor came and told the team that they could not air the interview. When the DW team refused to agree, ministry officials told the DW team that they would not be able to leave the building without handing over the video footage of the interview, after which they seized it.
DW General Director Peter Limbourg has strongly condemned Turkish authorities for their confiscation of the video footage of the interview with the Turkish minister.
He told the DW news website that the incident was another ”flagrant violation of freedom of the press” in Turkey.
Limbourg said the move by Turkish authorities does not abide by the principles of a state of law and democracy, adding that it is unacceptable for a minister who himself agreed to give an interview to prevent the airing of the interview just because he did not like the questions.
The DW general manager also said DW is calling on Turkish authorities to return the video footage to the team immediately and is also considering legal action.
DW reportedly spoke with the ministry’s press office on Monday evening and demanded that its video footage be returned by 12 p.m. on Tuesday, but Turkish authorities failed to comply.
DW also called the ministry asking it to give the footage of the interview back, but the ministry said it simply does not want the interview to be aired.
The Turkish government closed down dozens of media outlets and arrested dozens of journalists following the coup attempt in a move that added to the deterioration of freedom of the press in the country.