Turkey has denied access to Turkish bureau chief of Russian state news agency Sputnik, reports said Friday. The incident comes days after Sputnik said Ankara had temporarily blocked the news agency's website amid mounting tensions between the two countries.
The incident occurred at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport where Tural Kerimov was handed a document, which said he is “a passenger whose entry is prohibited in Turkey” without elaborating further, Sputnik reported. Turkish officials also seized Kerimov’s press card and residence permit and he was asked to return to Russia on the next flight, the journalist told the news agency.
Last Friday, the Russian news agency said the Turkish Telecommunications Department had temporarily blocked its website in the country. Sputnik was not given prior notification about the decision, Kerimov said at the time.
“This morning the blocking of the site was confirmed. According to a representative from Turkey’s Telecommunications Department, they are not obliged to warn anyone when closing a site,” Kerimov reportedly said. “We received no notifications, warnings or other messages from the competent authorities. No communications have been received since the blocking.”
The Russian foreign ministry had criticized Turkey’s move to block Sputnik saying it was another violation of fundamental human rights, free speech and right to access information in the country.
In January 2015, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other members of the cabinet were given the right to block any website without a court order. The government could also ask the Telecommunications Department to take down contents from any number of websites within four hours of receiving a notice, citing national security, protection of social order, or for the prevention of crime.
Moscow and Ankara’s relations soured after the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet shot down the Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber accusing the latter of violating Turkey's airspace — an allegation refuted by the Kremlin. In turn, the Kremlin accused Turkey of deliberately downing the warplane and demanded an apology. However, Davutoğlu responded in November 2015 saying his country would not offer an apology to Russia.