BERLIN (Reuters) - The director general of Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle condemned Turkey on Tuesday for confiscating the recording of an interview with its Youth and Sports Minister at his office in Ankara.
Peter Limbourg said the Turkish government’s seizure of the video tape was “a blatant violation of press freedom.”
Deutsche Welle reporter Michel Friedman asked Akif Cagatay Kilic questions about July’s attempted coup, mass layoffs and arrests that followed the failed putsch, and the media situation and the position of women in Turkey.
Tens of thousands of troops, civil servants, judges and officials have been detained or dismissed in a massive purge that Western allies worry Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is using to crack down on broader dissent, risking stability in the NATO partner country.
The European Union and the United States have expressed concern about the scale of the crackdown, and human rights groups have said a lack of due process will ensnare innocent people who had no role in the abortive coup.
Deutsche Welle’s Friedman and his camera crew were not allowed to leave the Ministry for Youth and Sport until they turned over the video tape of the interview for a program called “Conflict Zone”, DW said.
“What we are experiencing constitutes an act of the Turkish regime’s coercion,” Limbourg said in Berlin. “It cannot be that a minister willingly responds to an interview and then tries to block the transmission in such a manner just because he did not like the questions posed.”
Deutsche Welle’s Turkish language department quoted a statement from a ministry spokesman saying the interview was taken because the interviewer had posed questions that had not been previously planned.
A faction of the military attempted to seize power on July 15, killing some 240 people, mostly civilians, and wounding 2,000. About 100 people backing the coup were also killed, according to official estimates.
Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by John Stonestreet