Reuters International

Turkish Sportminister Akif Cagatay Kilic attends a protest for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen


BERLIN (Reuters) - German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said on Monday it had filed a complaint with a civil court in Ankara seeking the return of a confiscated video interview with Turkey's youth and sports minister.

Turkey confiscated the tape after reporter Michel Friedman asked the minister, Akif Cagatay Kilic, in the Sept. 5 interview about a range of sensitive issues including July's attempted military coup and the mass layoffs and arrests it prompted.

"This is an event that has nothing to do with the rule of law and democracy," Peter Limbourg, director-general of Deutsche Welle, said on Monday.

"We are now using legal methods to demand the prompt return of our video material," said Limbourg, who previously condemned the seizure of the tape as "a blatant violation of press freedom".

In Ankara, sports ministry spokesman Ubeydullah Yener said he did not know what the outcome of the court case would be but referred Reuters to an earlier statement, which requests that the interview not be aired and refers to "presumptuous comments and allegations" made by the presenter in the interview.

The case comes at a difficult time in relations between Germany and Turkey.

Critics of German Chancellor Angela Merkel accuse her of turning a blind eye to Turkey's human rights record because she needs Ankara's help in managing Europe's migrant crisis.

Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said the government accepted Deutsche Welle's decision "to do what it thinks is right to exercise its rights".

The German government said after the incident first erupted earlier this month that it regarded press freedom as "non-negotiable".

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin in Berlin; Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Gareth Jones)


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