Erdoğan spokesman cuts off interview with Swedish journalist, alleges ‘dishonest journalism’

Swedish journalist Diamant Salihu (left) and İbrahim Kalın, the spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right)

İbrahim Kalın, the spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, abruptly ended an interview with Swedish journalist Diamant Salihu and accused him of not practicing honest journalism and having a “different agenda,” SVT reported.

Salihu, who traveled to Turkey for research on Swedish criminals who are living in Turkey and wanted by the Swedish police, recently had a meeting with Kalın. Salihu reminded Kalın that there are many drug dealers and crime gang members living in Turkey who are wanted by the Swedish police and asked if Turkey is becoming a new center for drug dealers.

Kalın, who was angered by the question, said in English, “In principle, we don’t protect or hide criminals. If you’re implying that Turkey somehow provides a haven for such people or protects them, it’s completely baseless, completely outrageous, to make such a claim,’’ he said.

Kalın accused Salihu of having a ‘’different agenda’’ and making baseless accusations against Turkey about having mobsters and cocaine smugglers on its soil.

Kalın didn’t let Salihu continue and said, “That is the PKK speaking, that is FETÖ speaking. That is not honest journalism,” and halted the interview, saying he didn’t want to continue.

FETÖ is a derogatory acronym used by the government to label the faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization. The outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup in 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Salihu said Kalın accused him of ”having a different agenda” just because of his questions, but that was not the case.

Despite Kalın’s denials, more than 10 persons wanted by Sweden have been living in Turkey for years, including murderers and cocaine smugglers, Salihu said.

Kalın also didn’t answer the question of whether Turkey would extradite these criminals to Sweden, saying they follow legal procedures.

Sweden and Turkey have recently had meetings regarding Sweden’s efforts to join NATO, with Ankara accusing Stockholm of harboring political dissidents who are labelled as “terrorists” by Turkey.

NATO member Turkey is threatening to freeze Sweden and Finland’s attempts to join NATO unless they extradite dozens of people Ankara accuses of “terrorism,” including journalists living in exile.

A non-binding deal Sweden and fellow NATO aspirant Finland signed with Turkey in June commits them to “expeditiously and thoroughly” examine Ankara’s requests for suspects linked to the Gülen movement and the terrorist PKK.

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