CNN Turk criticized for cutting opposition mayor interview

Ekrem Imamoglu, mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, speaks to the media in Ankara on May 7, 2019. (AP)
Updated 21 May 2019
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CNN Turk criticized for cutting opposition mayor interview

  • Imamoglu countered that the interview was supposed to last 30 minutes more, but was told time was up
  • CNN Turk has been mocked in the past for toeing the government line

ISTANBUL: CNN’s Turkish channel was criticized Tuesday after it cut short an interview with the opposition candidate for Istanbul mayor as he began to talk about the municipality’s “extravagant” spending.

Social media users lashed out at CNN Turk after it stopped Monday night’s interview with Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party half an hour ahead of schedule.

One Twitter user @muratagirel suggested CNN Turk change the program’s name from “Unbiased Zone” to “Biased Zone.”

Imamoglu was dramatically stripped of his victory in March’s vote after the country’s top election body annulled the results over claims of “irregularities” and ordered a new election for June 23.

He is rarely given time on Turkish screens, whereas President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered almost daily televised speeches ahead of the March vote on behalf of ruling party candidate Binali Yildirim, a former prime minister.

Imamoglu was interrupted by the CNN Turk anchor as he began to talk about the lavish spending in Istanbul municipality which he said he discovered during his brief 18-day stint as mayor.

He held up placards depicting alleged waste, such as high numbers of unnecessary official cars, and said his campaign would focus on turning this information into savings. 

FASTFACT

Ekrem Imamoglu was interrupted by the CNN Turk anchor as he began to talk about the lavish spending in Istanbul municipality which he said he discovered during his 18-day stint as mayor.

This prompted the anchorman, Ahmet Hakan, first to interrupt him for a commercial break and then to end the program entirely when Imamoglu insisted on talking about the finances.

Imamoglu countered that the interview was supposed to last 30 minutes more, but was told time was up.

Many social media users reacted with anger, such as one person on Twitter who wrote: “Ahmet Hakan you are a very bad journalist ... are you aware that the time is up for you and those like you?”

The Istanbul Municipality responded late Monday, denying Imamoglu’s allegations about the official cars and said the claims amounted to “intentional distortion” to manipulate public opinion.

Turkey is ranked 157th in the world for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders, which says the government has increasingly seized control of media outlets and is the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.

CNN Turk has been mocked in the past for toeing the government line, particularly during the “Gezi Park” protests in 2013, when it ran a documentary about penguins instead of covering the demonstrations.

It is a joint venture of CNN’s parent company, Turner Broadcasting System International, and Turkey’s privately owned Dogan Media Group.

Dogan was sold last year to Demiroren Group, which has close ties to Erdogan.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.