BBC Hardtalk goes soft on UK anti-terror laws in interview with Erdoğan aide

Published 18.12.2018 19:26
Updated 19.12.2018 17:42
A screengrab from the episode of BBC's HardTalk
A screengrab from the episode of BBC's HardTalk

Professor Gülnur Aybet, a top adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, gave an interview to BBC's Stephen Sackur on Monday, but some of her remarks on the U.K.'s anti-terror laws were cut out from the HardTalk episode.

During the debate with Aybet, Sackur criticized Turkey over the prosecution of academics who were accused of signing a declaration in favor of PKK, an internationally recognized terrorist group. Aybet responded by saying that, under the U.K.'s anti-terror laws, glorifying terrorism is an unacceptable crime punishable by seven years. BBC editors, however, apparently found those remarks out of the line and cut them out of the broadcast.

"But on the other hand, there were a number of academics who put their signature on a declaration that openly glorified terrorism at a time of heightened security, national security for Turkey. They were under the law, the crime of glorifying terrorism, (under which) you can be prosecuted and put into jail," Aybet told Sackur.

"In fact there is also that law here in the U.K. as well. You can go to jail for up to seven years … if you glorify terrorism," Aybet said, in a portion of the interview that was cut from the final broadcast.

"The other group that were convicted who were academics belonged to the FETÖ terrorist organization which is the group that was behind the in coup attempt in 2016," she added, pointing to the Gülenist Terror Group run by Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

Regarding the issue, the BBC said that the particular section of the interview was not included in the broadcast to meet the program's length criteria. "HARDtalk interviews are robust and challenging and the BBC is committed to the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality in all of its output. Like all broadcasters we edit interviews so they are the right length for broadcast. This interview was conducted in accordance with the BBC's editorial guidelines and we stand by our journalism," a BBC spokesperson said.

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