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Deputy PM surprised by reporter's GE-len question.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Deputy Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government spokesperson BE-lent Arync seemed to have been surprised by a question during a press conference on Monday asking whether Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah GE-len had died in September 2013.

A reporter named Nevin Ecelik, who is said to be affiliated with an Internet news portal, prefaced her question by saying it was "out of the agenda" and asked for Arync's comments on reports that GE-len may have died in 2013. Halfway through her question, Arync interjected, "Who did you say died?"

"GE-len," she replied, attempting to elaborate on her question. She cited media reports saying GE-len possibly died in September 2013 but that his followers tried to cover up his death to prevent the collapse of his movement, which is also known as the Hizmet movement.

"Are you serious?" Arync asked the reporter, saying this was the first time he had heard this rumor. When he questioned her source, the reporter said she read the story in a newspaper called Egenin Sesi (Voice of the Aegean). Arync said he was from that region but that he had not heard of this newspaper before. He quickly brushed off the question, saying he didn't trust the source.

Apparently distracted by the question, Arync forgot the second part of another question asked by a different reporter. He blamed his confusion on the question about GE-len. He then started laughing and told his assistant to "get my medicine ready" because "that lady devastated me."

Today's Zaman talked with Sinan Kara, the editor-in-chief of the Egenin Sesi news portal, about the report on GE-len. Kara said he was surprised that his news portal was named as the source of a story that appeared on the Turkhabertime news portal in August 2014. Kara said it was surprising to hear a question about a news story published six months ago. "We just quoted the story from the Turkhabertime website, citing the news portal," Kara added.

In the meantime, local media reported that Ecelik does not hold a press card and is not accredited by the Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM). The Internet news portal Ecelik works for could not be identified. BYEGM said she would not receive accreditation to attend other press conferences held by the Prime Ministry.

Sources told Today's Zaman that Ecelik has been covering meetings at the Prime Ministry and AK Party headquarters for some time and introduced herself a reporter for Hadi EuzyE-yk, editor-in-chief of the Internethaber news portal, said they don't have a reporter by that name. Some of the journalists covering the Prime Ministry and AK Party said she is a relative of AK Party spokesman BeE-ir Atalay and others said she is a relative of Ankara Mayor Melih GE[micro]kcek. Pro-government tweets have been posted on Ecelik's Twitter account, which was made private by Ecelik after the reports appeared in the Turkish media.

Accreditation ban on media critical of government continues as pro-government media enjoys full access

Ecelik's access to the press conference raised questions about why the Prime Ministry allowed a reporter without accreditation or a press card to enter the press conference while imposing a strict accreditation ban on journalists from media outlets critical of the government. Journalists from pro-government media outlets have enjoyed the facilities of state institutions, as they have been able to easily access press conferences and foreign travel.

BYEGM made a highly controversial decision to deny 94 veteran journalists -- many of whom work for the Zaman, Samanyolu, Cihan, Taraf and BugE-n media outlets -- permanent press cards regardless of their eligibility during a meeting held last December. Despite authorizing the issuance of press cards to 208 new applicants, the directorate declined to award cards to a number of journalists applying to extend the expiration of cards already in their possession.

Journalists from the Zaman, Samanyolu, Cihan, Taraf and BugE-n media outlets were banned from covering press conferences in Turkey and abroad several times by officials from the Presidency, Prime Ministry, Foreign Affair Ministry, Interior Ministry and other state institutions.

The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC), Turkey's Press Council and civil society representatives had previously issued a statement condemning the AK Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an for a selective ban on media outlets including the Zaman, Today's Zaman, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, SE[micro]zcE-, HE-rriyet, Evrensel and BirgE-n newspapers.

Osman E[pounds sterling]nalan, ystanbul (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Feb 3, 2015
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