TRT World’s two reporters detained during Turkish FM’s visit to Saudi Arabia

Two reporters working for state-broadcaster TRT World were briefly detained in Saudi Arabia during Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s visit to the country, reported by Hurriyet daily.

The reporters identified as Pakistani citizen Hasan Abdullah and cameraman Nihat Yayman were reportedly detained at the hotel they were staying in Mecca where they were reporting on the minister’s visit.

They were held under detention for 10 hours and released after Çavuşoğlu briefed the Saudi King about their situation. On their way back to the country, Abdullah said they had been questioned about Qatar.

Çavuşoğlu visited Saudi Arabia on Friday to have talks with Saudi Arabian King Salman Abdelaziz and other officials in an effort to resolve the Gulf dispute that broke out two weeks ago. Çavuşoğlu was received by King Salman in the holy city of Mecca, a day after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart. He also visited Doha on Wednesday where he called for dialogue after meeting Qatar’s emir and foreign minister ahead of his Saudi stop.

Turkey has been vocal about the embargo imposed on Qatar as Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Muslim countries should not be imposing sanctions on fellow Muslim nations. Turkey sees Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf. Five Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Yemen — cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting international terrorism.

Meanwhile, Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera said the Twitter account for its main Arabic-language channel was temporarily “suspended” on Satruday, in the latest incident at the station. A spokesman for the channel said the cut may have been due to a technical problem and that all Twitter accounts affected were back online. “Most of our Arabic accounts were blocked, but they are now up-and-running,” the spokesman told AFP, adding that it may take several hours for them to be fully restored.

An investigation was taking place to determine the cause, and technical teams from the broadcaster were trying to coordinate with Twitter. Al Jazeera’s main Arabic language account has almost 12 million followers. The television channel has long been a target for criticism by other Middle East countries, with Al Jazeera banned on several occasions. Earlier this month, Al Jazeera said it was combatting a large-scale cyber attack.

June 17, 2017

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