Journalist expelled from Erdoğan-Merkel news conference due to slogan T-shirt

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Turkish journalist Adil Yiğit was removed from a news conference held by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday for wearing a T-shirt that called for freedom to jailed journalists in Turkey.

Yiğit, who has been living in Hamburg for years, has repeatedly made critical statements about the Turkish president in the past.

On Friday, he lined up in the front row of journalists at the news conference, wearing a T-shirt that said “Freedom for Journalists” in Turkish.

Security guards then took Yiğit and led him out of the hall. The journalist shouted several times, “I did not do anything.” President Erdoğan, who is on a state visit to Germany, watched the scene with a smile. The incident lasted only a few seconds, after which the press conference went on uninterrupted.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) show that 254 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 8, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 62 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Yiğit writes for the German daily newspaper known as “taz” and is publisher of the anti-government online newspaper Avrupa Postası.

According to taz, the left-wing activist was injured in a raid by the far-right Gray Wolves in 1978 in Turkey and then fled to France, where he was granted asylum. He later went to Hamburg, where he married a taz editor and had two children with her. In Hamburg he continued to engage in politics so has remained under the monitoring of the Turkish secret service.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

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