Dozens of reporters in Istanbul and Ankara rallied on Tuesday (Jun 29) demanding protection from the police following the violent arrest of an AFP photographer during a banned Istanbul Pride event.

Award-winning photographer Bulent Kilic filed a “violent arrest” complaint against police officers who pinned him to the ground with their legs against his neck and back while he was covering the march on Saturday.

He was released without charges after being taken to a police station for questioning. Dozens of Pride event protesters were also briefly detained.

AFP chief executive Fabrice Fries “strongly protested” the detention in a letter urging Turkish officials to “swiftly investigate this incident and take the necessary measures so that the involved officers are held accountable”.

Journalists and protesters hold an image of AFP photographer Bulent Kilic and signs reading ‘we can’t breath’ during a demonstration in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Istanbul, on June 29, 2021, held to demand protection for journalists – as the photographer was arrested by police officers while covering a Pride march in the city on June 26. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

The European Union’s ambassador to Turkey also expressed support for Kilic at a media awards ceremony in the capital Ankara.

“Of course the use of violence against journalists is not acceptable. I need to say this here today,” EU ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut said.

Dozens of journalists rallied near the Istanbul governor’s mansion holding photos of Kilic’s head pinned to the ground and signs saying: “We can’t breathe”.

“Press freedoms cannot be silenced,” they chanted while some hung their cameras to the fence surrounding the governor’s mansion in protest.

A Turkish journalists’ union said Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya told them during a subsequent meeting that an administrative investigation had been launched against the arresting officer.


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