‘Who do you work for?’ asks miffed Turkish minister after questions on press freedom

MaltaToday asked Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim how many journalists have been blacklisted in Turkey… a question which did not go down well with Turkey’s Minister of Youth

Turkey 2016: Activists take to the streets after authorities seized country's largest newspaper
Turkey 2016: Activists take to the streets after authorities seized country's largest newspaper

What’s Turkey’s press freedom status? “Not free”, according to Freedom House and with the Turkish Prime Minister in Malta, MaltaToday took the opportunity to see whether press freedom was brought up in the talks between Joseph Muscat and Binalı Yildirim.

MaltaToday also asked how many journalists had been blacklisted in Turkey and why.

But while the two Prime Ministers took their time to reply, MaltaToday’s questions prompted Turkey’s minister for youth to seek out the reporter.

At the end of the press conference, as the politicians prepared to exit Auberge de Castille’s courtyard, Akif Çağatay Kılıç turned around and walked straight up to the reporter. “Which newspaper do you work for?” Kılıç asked, without identifying himself.

“MaltaToday,” came the reporter’s reply, somewhat astounded by the question as the man turned back and headed towards the delegation.

The reporter, who at that moment was not aware that the man had in fact been a member of Yildrim’s Cabinet, followed him and asked who he was. It was at that moment that Kılıç identified himself as the Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture and the exchange ended there.

Media freedom in Turkey deteriorated at an alarming rate in 2015. The government, controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), aggressively used the penal code, criminal defamation legislation, and the country’s antiterrorism law to punish critical reporting, and journalists faced growing violence, harassment, and intimidation from both state and nonstate actors during the year.

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