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Turkish Prime Minister assails international reporters as 'agents'

Erdogan referred to reporters as "agents" and called reporter Ivan Watson a "lackey."
By Ed Adamczyk   |   June 3, 2014 at 3:07 PM   |   Comments

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ANKARA, Turkey, June 3 (UPI) --Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was critical of foreign reporters covering an Istanbul protest after a CNN International reporter was roughed up on camera.

"That CNN International lackey (a reference to reporter Ivan Watson) is trying to do something there. He made an eight-hour broadcast during last year's Gezi (Park, in Instanbul) events. Why? To stir up trouble in my country. This year, they have been caught red-handed. Those don't have anything to do with independent and impartial media. They have been given tasks. They are agents," Erdogan said Tuesday in a weekly report to his political party's lawmakers.

Watson, a CNN correspondent, was detained while on air Saturday during protests in Ankara commemorating a demonstration in Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park a year ago. He later claimed he was kicked by a police officer.

A CNN statement said, "We stand unequivocally by our reporting from Turkey, which has been and continues to be fair, factual and impartial."

Erdogan also complained about coverage of last month's coal mine disaster in the Turkish city of Soma, singling out BBC Turkish and the German publication Der Spiegel. Both media outlets stood by their reporters.

In addition, Erdogan threatened to compile video footage to demonstrate the actions of Turkish police in handling the demonstration were consistent with police procedure around the world. Thousands demonstrated in Istanbul and Ankara, and police crackdowns led to injuries and the detention of 150 people.

Follow @adamczyk_ed and @UPI on Twitter.
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