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BBC Under Fire for Cutting Crucial Parts of Turkish Leader, Asad Umar’s HardTalk Interviews

LONDON: The BBC has come under heavy criticism for cutting crucial parts of Pakistani Minister and a senior Advisor of Turkish President’s interviews in its HardTalk show.

The BBC has cut parts from interviews with Gulnur Aybet, Senior Advisor to Turkey’s President and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar.

The recent omissions from interviews of senior advisor to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Professor Gulnur Aybet and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar have attracted heavy criticism.

A range of topics were discussed in the hard-hitting interview on Monday with President Erdogan’s Senior Advisor Aybet, from the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to press freedom in Turkey.

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Parts of the interview which you cannot see on the clip currently running on BBC’s website is the UK terror laws in which “encouragement of terrorism” is punishable by up to 7 years in prison following the Terrorism Act of 2006.

This is not the first time that HardTalk has come under fire. The show received immense criticism after airing a TV interview on December 13 with Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar in which BBC omitted Umar’s mention of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Following the backlash BBC defended its action, saying omission was “not an act of censorship” and it was done due to the programme being too long to be broadcast on TV and went on to add that confusion had been caused, and it would restore the omitted section and air the programme.

BBC’s explanation was not well received by Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari or the social media, with the minister describing it as “pathetic” and adding BBC “bias has always been there.”

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Following the criticism, BBC once again omitted crucial parts of an interview just a few days later.

Host Stephen Sackur put Presidential Advisor Gulnur Aybet on the hot seat for 23 minutes amidst a flurry of allegations and accusations regarding jailed journalists and academics in Turkey.

The HardTalk host claimed that organisations like Amnesty and The Committee to Protect Journalists allege that there are hundreds of journalists and academics jailed in Turkey, but Aybet rebuked these figures saying, “I have seen a lot of figures from some different organisations including Amnesty and the numbers actually contradict each other.”

“When a person is arrested in Turkey, they have to fill out a form, and they put under profession, whatever their profession is. Now there are people who have written in that form that their profession is journalism, but they are not necessarily journalists.”