A journalist working for Yol TV was removed from the Health Ministry's WhatsApp communications group after she asked a question critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Özge Uyanık was removed from the group after asking on social media what Health Minister Fahrettin Koca thinks about the reception hosted by Erdoğan in the presidential palace in honor of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
Uyanık was barred from asking the question to Koca during a press briefing, which prompted her to turn to social media.
In a video, she pointed to the Health Ministry's warnings on social distancing and gatherings, when the lavish feast at the presidential palace lacked any COVID-19 measures.
"We saw that the measures conveyed to citizens were not abided by in this reception. I wanted to ask Minister Fahrettin Koca what he thinks about that scene," Uyanık said.
Basın toplantısında sormamıza izin verilmeyen soruyu Sn. @drfahrettinkoca'ya buradan soruyorum:— Özge Uyanık (@Ozgeuyanik_) December 24, 2020
Vatandaşa sürekli kalabalık ortamlardan uzak durulması çağrısı yaptınız. Cumhurbaşkanlığı'nda Irak Başbakanı için canlı müzikli ziyafet verildi. Bu tabloyla ilgili yorumunuz ne? pic.twitter.com/ZesWpwarfD
Following her question, Uyanık was removed from the ministry's WhatsApp group without receiving any explanation.
"Mr. Koca, what crime did we commit that we were punished this way? Is our crime asking questions?" she said on Twitter on Dec. 26.
Sağlık Bakanlığı'nın son toplantısında soru sormama izin verilmemiş, sorumu sosyal medyadan yöneltmiştim. Şimdi de Whatsapp grubundan hiçbir açıklama yapılmadan çıkarıldım— Özge Uyanık (@Ozgeuyanik_) December 26, 2020
Ne suç işledik de böyle cezalandırıldık Sn @drfahrettinkoca? Yol TV muhabiri olarak suçumuz soru sormak mı? pic.twitter.com/nguo5tkwas
Journalists' groups slammed the ministry for preventing Uyanık from asking a question.
"Journalists ask questions on behalf of the people. We call on the government to correct this mistake and respect the people's right to receive news," the Progressive Journalists Association said.