ANKARA: Turkey’s embattled prime minister lashed out at international media yesterday, accusing news outlets of stirring unrest during the one-year anniversary of mass anti-government protests.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan singled out CNN International, whose reporter was arrested live on air last Saturday while covering street clashes, accusing the network of spying.
“International media organisations who came to Istanbul for provocative and exaggerated broadcasts were left empty-handed,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AKP party in an apparent reference to the incident.
On Saturday, police violently dispersed demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara as they marked a year since the start of nationwide protests denouncing Erdogan’s authoritarian rule.
News outlets were also targeted, with Turkish police briefly detaining a CNN team in the middle of a broadcast from the square.
“Turkish police released CNN team after half an hour. Officer apologised for another officer who kneed me while I was being detained,” CNN’s Ivan Watson said on Twitter.
Yesterday, Erdogan called Watson a “lackey” who had been “caught red-handed” trying to bring chaos to Turkey.
“(CNN) doesn’t care about a free, impartial and independent press. They are assigned to work like spies,” Erdogan said.
The premier praised the “firm stance” taken by Turkish police towards the latest protests.
ISTANBUL: Turkey lifted a controversial ban on YouTube yesterday, days after the country’s top court ruled that it breached the right to free speech.
The media-sharing site was blocked in Turkey on March 27 after it was used to leak alleged audio recordings of top government, military and spy officials discussing military action in neighbouring war-torn Syria.
Internet users in Turkey were widely able to access YouTube yesterday after the telecoms authority (TIB) lifted the block on the site.