Reporter who claimed quake victim left under rubble for Erdoğan photo op faces investigation

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The governor’s office in the eastern Turkish province of Elazığ, which was shaken by a powerful earthquake on Friday, has filed a criminal complaint against a journalist who claimed a quake victim was made to wait an hour for rescue from the rubble so President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who visited the city on Saturday, could have a photo taken with her, according to various Turkish news outlets.

The journalist is Serdar Akinan, who writes for the Odatv news website.

During a program on KRT TV on Sunday, Akinan, who went to Elazığ immediately after the magnitude 6.8 earthquake, claimed that search and rescue teams found an injured woman under a collapsed building but that she was not pulled from the rubble for an hour in order to give Erdoğan a photo op.

Erdoğan visited the city on Saturday to inspect the scene and attend the funerals of some of the quake victims. The temblor claimed the lives of 41 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

Akinan said Abdülkadir Tezcan, the leader of the search and rescue teams from the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), gestured to the rescue workers and told them to leave the quake victim under the rubble until Erdoğan arrived. Tezcan again signaled for the workers to bring the injured woman, who was on a stretcher, close to Erdoğan, and the moment was photographed by many journalists in the area.

Akinan also claimed the AFAD teams were not cooperating with the other rescue teams in the area that came from provinces whose mayors are from opposition parties such as Adana, Ankara and İstanbul.

The criminal complaint against the journalist was filed by the governor’s office on the grounds that he attempted to demoralize the rescue teams in Elazığ with his “baseless accusations.”

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