Russian journalists preparing an investigative report into Ankara’s alleged involvement in the oil trade with ISIS have been detained and deported from Turkey. Moscow strongly condemned the treatment of the Rossiya 1 TV crew, demanding explanations.
We strongly condemn the illegal actions of the Turkish authorities,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Such an attitude towards the media is absolutely unacceptable.”
On Monday, the press crew of the TV program ‘Special Correspondent’, headed by Alexander Buzaladze, were detained in southeastern Turkey by authorities in civilian clothes. The journalists were preparing an investigative report into the alleged smuggling of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil into Turkey.
The trouble for the Rossiya 1 TV crew started only once they arrived at the border, Buzaladze said after the deportation. He told Russian state-owned channel Vesti that while the crew worked in Istanbul and Ankara they had faced no opposition from the authorities.
But as soon as they and tried to film close to the Turkish-Syrian border the crew was “blocked [by] the Turkish security forces” leaving them no time to even “get the camera out.”
The Russian crew was arrested in Hatay province bordering Syria as they were on their way to the neighboring province of Gaziantep. According to Buzaladze, there the journalists wanted to film “the border itself, military hardware, people that work at the border, and the border crossing.”
Turkish authorities were first of all concerned “whether we had a camera,” Buzaladze says.
“The first thing they wanted to know [was] if we had a camera. The camera was left in the luggage compartment, locked in a case. Despite this, they took our documents, we were taken to the police station, later we photographed, fingerprinted, brought to the doctor for a medical examination to confirm that we are in a sane state, and that we are alive and well,” the journalist said.
The crew was later informed by the Turkish side that they were being deported. At the same time, authorities failed to explain the reason behind their move, Buzaladedze notes. The Russian journalists were escorted by police to the airport and put on a plane back to Russia.
Throughout the entire incident the Turkish authorities refused to cooperate with Russian diplomats on the ground. The Russian Foreign Ministry wants to know the real reasons behind the detention of the Rossiya 1 crew, and remains curious as to what “rules” were violated by the Russian journalists.
“The Turkish authorities refused to give explanations to representatives of the Russian Embassy in Turkey who got in touch with the crew shortly after its detention,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The group was deported apparently under the pretext of its members having violated laws for foreign journalists working in Turkey.