Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued with a student of journalism who asked him about the freedom of press in Turkey, with the president insisting that there is press freedom in the country, according to Turkish media reports.
The debate took place during a pre-dawn meal, at the presidential palace in Ankara on Thursday, where students were invited by Erdogan’s wife, Emine.
The student, who is in his second year at Ankara’s Gazi University journalism department, told Erdogan that he believes that there is no press freedom in Turkey and that the president should be more open to criticism.
The student’s name was not revealed.
Then, Erdogan responded: “You are free just by being able to ask a president such a question in the president’s own house.”
When the student said he did not want to see journalists being jailed in Turkey, Erdogan said the freedom of a journalist ends with the violation of another person’s freedom.
“If a journalist who humiliates my family members in the worst way with insults is arrested within the scope of the law, will you still say, ‘It is a journalist’s freedom [to do such things]?’” Erdogan said.
When the student recalled the dismissal of journalist İrfan Degirmenci from Kanal D last year, Erdogan said the firing of Degirmenci had nothing to do with him because he was fired by the boss of Kanal D, businessman Aydın Dogan at the time.
In response, the student told Erdoğan that the boss of the Kanal D is under Erdoğan’s control.
“Shame on you. The entire world knows how Kanal D’s boss has feelings of animosity for me, but you don’t know this,” Erdogan answered.