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DW files suit against Turkish ministry

September 26, 2016

DW has filed a lawsuit in a civil court in Ankara for the return of video footage of an interview with the Turkish Minister for Youth and Sports. The material was confiscated and all appeals for its return have failed.

DW Conflict Zone Türkei - Gast Akif Çağatay Kılıç
Image: DW/M. Martin

On September 5, DW TV host Michel Friedman interviewed Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic for DW's "Conflict Zone." Their exchange touched on the fallout from July's coup attempt, as well as press freedom and the status of women.

Following the recording a Turkish government spokesperson instructed DW not to air the interview; when Friedman protested, the video was confiscated by ministry staff.

All attempts by Deutsche Welle to get Turkish authorities to return the footage were ignored, so the German international broadcaster on Monday filed a lawsuit at a court in Ankara.

"This is an event that has nothing to do with rule of law and democracy. We are now using legal methods to demand the prompt return of our video material," said Deutsche Welle's Director General, Peter Limbourg.

DW's Broadcasting Board supported legal steps.

"We advocate unrestricted press freedom. Turkey is closely connected to Europe. Along with that comes respect for democratic fundamental principles," said Board Chairman Dr. Karl Jüsten. "It is deeply troubling that Deutsche Welle has been forced to file suit in court for the return of the video interview with the Turkish minister.”

The Board requested that DW receive additional funding to adequately fulfill its responsibility as the provider of objective information in this politically significant region.

"We cannot accept what is happening in Turkey with regards to press freedom. DW is required to inform people in a comprehensive and objective way and to convey Germany's positions," Jüsten said.

"Conflict Zone” is DW's most prominent hard-hitting political interview television show.

Its interviewees do not receive questions in advance, but topics for discussion are often cleared beforehand. In this case, they were cleared by the minister's press people.

Turkey ranks 161 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

The relationship between Turkey and Germany has been strained following this summer's Bundestag resolution to recognize the Ottoman slaughter of Armenians as genocide, as well as developments in Ankara since July's coup.

The Berlin government has backed Deutsche Welle in its protest against the seizure of the material. But the tape incident further adds to strains in ties between Germany and Turkey at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel needs Ankara's help in managing Europe's migrant crisis.