World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called CNN correspondent Ivan Watson a "flunky" and an "agent" for his coverage of anti-government protests.
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 Gezi riots.
"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.
On Saturday, police shoved and kicked Watson, then dragged him off camera while he spoke during a live broadcast from Taksim. Watson is seen showing his Turkish press accreditation.
"Turkish police detained me and my crew in the middle of a live report in Taksim Square. One officer kneed me in the butt," Watson tweeted on Saturday.
"Turkish police released CNN team after half an hour. Officer apologized for another officer who kneed me while I was being detained," he tweeted 30 minutes later.
An government official said on Saturday the prime minister's office had phoned Watson to inquire about his situation to ensure he was safe and said he was only held for a few minutes because he was not carrying his passport.Last Mod: 03 Haziran 2014, 17:31