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Turkish Justice Ministry staff caught on camera telling journalist not to ask any questions

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A reporter from FOX TV, which is critical of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, was warned not to ask Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ any questions during a public event on Tuesday, local media reported.

Bozdağ’s press advisor Bilal Çetin told Fox TV reporter Yeşim Karacaoğlu not to direct any questions to the minister during an appeals evaluation meeting held on Tuesday, an event at which Bozdağ talked about the current situation and performance of Turkey’s appeals courts.

When Karacaoğlu indicated her intention to ask Bozdağ a question, Çetin approached her and asked her not to, Turkish media reports said, telling her that he normally wouldn’t have allowed FOX TV in to the event but that he did, so to please not ask any questions.

Çetin prohibiting Karacaoğlu from asking questions was seen as another move by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP government to control the Turkish media.

It is common for journalists in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, to face threats, physical attacks and legal harassment due to their work.

Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey, which is among the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.

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