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Turkey confiscates DW footage of interview with Minister

Vera TellmannSeptember 6, 2016

Turkish authorities have confiscated DW Video material of a 'Conflict Zone' interview with the Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs. The interviewer, Michel Friedmann, had touched on the aftermath of the failed coup.

Akif Çağatay Kılıç being interviewed by Michel Friedman
Image: DW/M. Martin

Immediately following the recording of a television interview with the Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Akif Kilic, for DW's talk show "Conflict Zone," Turkish authorities confiscated the video footage. The interview with DW host Michel Friedman took place in Ankara on the evening of September 5.

Host Michel Friedman asked about the coup attempt in July as well as the mass layoffs and arrests that took place in its aftermath. He asked about the media situation in Turkey as well as the position of women in Turkish society. The minister was asked to further explain several quotes made by President Erdogan regarding these subjects.

Immediately following the interview, the minister excused himself. As soon as he had left the room, the minister's press officer announced that DW would not be allowed to broadcast the interview. When Friedman and his editorial colleague protested, the video material was confiscated by employees of the Turkish ministry of youth and sports. It was made clear to the TV crew that they would not be able to leave the ministry in possession of the video footage.

DW protests confiscation

DW Director General Peter Limbourg spoke out about the behavior of the Turkish authorities today. He said: "This incident is proof of a blatant violation of press freedom in Turkey. What we are experiencing constitutes an act of the Turkish regime's coercion. It no longer follows the rule of law and has nothing to do with democracy. 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. We are requesting the Turkish authorities to return the video material straightaway and we will consider our legal options."

Immediately following the incident, DW appealed to the Turkish ministry of youth and sports as well as to the Turkish directorate-general for press and information and demanded the release of the video material. A deadline set for today at noon local time expired without any response. During several phone conversations with representatives of the ministry of youth and sports this morning, Deutsche Welle repeatedly requested the video footage. The response has remained unchanged: the ministry is not in agreement with the broadcasting of the interview.

In his statement made to DW's Turkish language department Übeydullah Yener, press officer of the Sport Minister said "There was no authorisation for the interview. The questions asked were not the ones that were planned. Mr. Friedman himself knows exactly why this happened. Some statements were right out allegations. In such a situation, there was no authorization granted."