The Washington representative of Turkey’s Hürriyet daily interviewed US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was kept in pre-trial detention in Turkey on terrorism charges for almost two years, but the newspaper failed to publish the interview, the t24 news website reported on Monday.
A report by t24 said, relying on anonymous sources at Hürriyet, the paper’s Washington representative, Cansu Çamlıbel, interviewed Brunson, who immediately left Turkey for the US after his release from house arrest, around three weeks ago but the interview was never published.
T24 said it could not obtain any information about the content of the interview but that the paper decided not to publish it at the last moment upon a decision not by the daily’s editor-in-chief, Vahap Munyar, but the head of the Demirören Media Group, Mehmet Soysal.
Turkey and the US experienced rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions over a court ruling to put Brunson under house arrest after almost two years of pretrial detention on terrorism charges, instead of freeing him as demanded by Washington.
Political tensions between the two countries sparked worries in the markets after US President Donald Trump threatened economic pressure to secure Brunson’s release.
After his transfer in July from jail to house arrest, Brunson was sentenced to just over three years in prison in October but was released due to time served.
Hürriyet was known as the flagship newspaper of the Doğan Media Group, which was the largest and most influential media group in Turkey until recently.
The Doğan Media Group was sold to the Demirören Group in March. Many interpreted this development as the final nail in the coffin of press freedom in Turkey as the Demirören Group is known to be close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its chairman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The AKP government has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views.