Turkish Health Ministry removes journalist from WhatsApp press group over question critical of Erdoğan

The Turkish Health Ministry has removed a journalist from its communications group in WhatsApp after she asked a question critical of President Erdoğan. Journalist Özge Uyanık said that she wasn't warned before being removed.

Duvar English

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. 

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. 

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.