Turkey’s Pirime Minister Says CNN’s Ivan Watson Is An Agent!
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called CNN correspondent Ivan Watson a “flunky” and an “agent” for his coverage of anti-government protests days after police harassed him live on air.
Istanbul police interrupted a live CNN International broadcast on Saturday and briefly held Watson, the news broadcaster’s long-time Istanbul correspondent. He was reporting on the first anniversary of Turkey’s biggest anti-government protests in decades.
“The international media that came to Istanbul and made exaggerated, provocative calls were licking their paws. One of them was that CNN flunky,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in parliament in a speech aired live by several channels.
“He was caught red-handed. These people have nothing to with a free, impartial, independent press. These people are literally executing their duties as agents. That’s why they are here.”
Erdogan recalled Atlanta, Georgia-based CNN’s hours-long live coverage of the 2013 protests in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square and said it was aimed at fomenting unrest.
“We stand unequivocally by our reporting from Turkey, which has been and continues to be fair, factual and impartial,” a CNN spokesperson said.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the accusation that Watson was serving as an agent “ridiculous” and defended CNN as “independent and nonbiased”.
“Look, we strongly support freedom of the press in Turkey, including Ivan Watson from CNN being able to report, and have continued to raise our concerns,” Harf told a media briefing.