Turkey has slammed The New York Times and CNN International for using pictures taken in Istanbul in their reports on new U.S. travel restrictions over coronavirus, deeming their coverage “irresponsible.”
“Turkey has adopted a proactive approach since the very day in the fight against this pandemic to protect health and of its citizens and foreign visitors. The public has the right to be informed on facts in this regard and in any case not to be mislead by irresponsible coverage,” Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç said in a tweet on March 12.
“It is disturbing to see that following the U.S. announcement to suspend travel to the United States from Schengen Countries, The New York Times and CNN used photos from Istanbul in their coverage in total contradiction with principles of professional and objective journalism,” he added.
The U.S. on March 11 announced it was suspending travel from Europe in an effort to stem the epidemic. The restrictions include EU and Schengen region countries, but does not include Turkey.
“We denounce the fact that The New York Times, despite our repeated requests to that end, is unwilling to issue a statement to correct this unacceptable incident and set the record straight in accordance with their professional responsibility to provide factual information to their followers,” Kılıç also said.
Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank also slammed the incident.
“The Western media shared this news by posting photos of Turkey, although it is not on the flight restriction list,” Varank said on Twitter.
“Like coronavirus, this mentality must be quarantined,” he added.
He also attached two photos the Times published alongside its stories, of scenes inside and outside Istanbul mosques. One shows disinfection work to protect the mosque from the virus, while the other includes the Turkish flag.
Gülnur Aybet, a senior advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also tweeted about the photos: “The US bans flights from Europe due to coronavirus. Turkey is not even included in the list of countries covered in that ban.
“But the photos under that headline are those from Turkey… go figure… oh and in cases like this, we’re considered to be part of ‘Europe’…”
The countries affected by the restrictions include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The virus originated in Wuhan, China last December and has since spread to more than 100 countries.