Turkish security manhandles journalists at WA event

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 2:33 AM

Turkish security executive tried to delete journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan from the Brookings Institution, the venue for Erdogan'south speech.

Turkish security manhandles journalists at WA event

It was a tense start for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan'south visit to WA for a nuclear security summit, as his security guards tussled with several journalists covering a speech.

Turkish security executive tried to delete journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan from the Brookings Institution, the venue for Erdogan'south speech. The policy institute'south security guards intervened, asking the Turkish executive to leave the room.

Earlier, the executive had stopped the journalist — who works for opposition media — from entering. A second Turkish journalist said Erdogan'south bodyguards kicked him in the leg, injuring him exterior the event and prevented him from attending.

Another journalist, Amberin Zaman, a former Turkey correspondent for The Economist, said the Turkish security detail called her a "PKK whore" as she was standing exterior the event. The PKK, or Kurdistan Worker'south Party, is a Kurdish militant grouping that Turkey and the United States classifies as a terrorist organization.

Erdogan is facing increasing criticism for his crackdown on free speech at home. Arslan has worked at outlets linked to U. S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a bitter foe of Erdogan. The government accuses Gulen of plotting to overthrow it and keep him on trial in absentia last year.

The injured journalist, Emre Uslu, has written for another Gulen-linked English-language newspaper. He says he was left bloodied by the kick to his leg and couldn't obtain by security to attend the event, although he was on the guest list.

The treatment wouldn't be surprising in Turkey. In recent months, the government has moved to engross control of a no of media outlets linked to Gulen as portion of a wide offensive against dissent, particularly against Erdogan personally.

Protesters, many criticizing Turkish treatment of its Kurdish minority, gathered Thursday exterior the Brookings event before Erdogan'south arrival. A Turkish Embassy official declined to comment on the incidents at the event.

In his speech, Erdogan addressed a wide array of foreign policy issues. He expressed optimism about improving relations with Israel and holding talks to reunify Cyprus. He also criticized Western support of Kurdish rebels in Syria whom Turkey considers portion of a terrorist group, and called for more Western funding to assistance Syrian refugees.

Erdogan has faced a chilly reception from the Obama administration, but he said U. S.-Turkish relations are good.

"The Turkish-American relationship is powerful sufficient to resolve differences through dialogue," he said.

Erdogan took questions, including some by moderator Martin Indyk about press freedom in Turkey and Erdogan'south frequent utilize of a law against insulting the president. The country'south justice minister recently said that as many as 1.845 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting Erdogan. Critics declare Erdogan has been aggressively using the law to muzzle dissent. Those who have gone on trial comprise celebrities, journalists and students — many for their postings on social media.

Erdogan repeated government assertions — widely criticized by international media freedom advocates — that number journalist is in prison or below prosecution because of journalism work. He also said he welcomed all manner of criticism, but couldn't tolerate insults.

"When it comes to insult and defamation, of course I've problems," he said.

Despite the questions on media freedom, Indyk stressed that the event was a policy discussion and didn't call on journalists sitting in the back of the room.

Since Erdogan rose to power in two thousand-second, several news outlets seized by the government have been handed over to businesses near to the party. Tax inspections and tax fines have served to intimidate many media outlets, which fear falling afoul of the government. Journalists who are critical of the government have been fired. More than a dozen journalists are in prison, although the government insists they've been jailed for criminal activity, not journalistic work.

The Washington-based National Press Club issued a statement criticizing the Turkish security.

"Turkey'south boss and his security team are guests in the United States," said press club president Thomas Burr. "They have number right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they were apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they've in this country."

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