Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed a BBC reporter who commented on the high number of jailed journalists and closed-down media outlets in Turkey, telling the reporter that she has more freedom than he does.
Erdoğan’s remarks came during a BBC program called “HARDtalk,” hosted by Zeinab Badawi, which will be aired on July 14.
When Badawi reminded Erdoğan that 160 media outlets were closed down and 2,500 journalists or media workers were sacked from their jobs in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15, 2016, Erdoğan disputed the figures, telling the BBC: “No one is jailed because of journalism here.”
“Just two actual journalists are in jail right now,” he said.
Slamming the journalist for her remarks, the Turkish president continued: “You see, you speak more than me, you have more freedom than me. And now you aren’t giving me the opportunity to exercise that right. You are interviewing me, but you don’t give me the opportunity to speak.”
Erdoğan claimed that jailed journalists were affiliated with terrorist organizations and that some were arrested because they were involved in robbery.
“They have employee ID cards, they don’t have official press cards, they claim to be journalists with employee ID cards. The figure of 170 [jailed journalists] you mentioned, is a lie. We have said this so many times,” added Erdoğan.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.