ISTANBUL: Saudi Arabia detained two reporters for Turkey’s state-run English language channel TRT World for some 10 hours during a visit by the Turkish foreign minister, before releasing them, reports said Saturday.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu late Friday held talks with Saudi Arabia King Salman in Mecca aimed at easing the crisis over the diplomatic and economic isolation of Ankara’s ally Qatar.
Correspondent Hasan Abdullah and cameraman Nihat Yayman, who were covering the talks, were detained by Saudi authorities at their hotel but then released after Cavusoglu personally intervened with the kingdom monarch, the Hurriyet daily said.
Abdullah said in a statement the pair “were detained from our hotel by Saudi police in Mecca after a live analysis” on the crisis with Qatar. “The ordeal lasted nearly 10 hours during which we faced multiple interrogations and lock-up,” he said, expressing gratitude to the Turkish authorities for solving the issue.
There was no immediate indication over why they had been detained or if it directly concerned their reporting from the kingdom. Hurriyet said they were freed on the instructions of the Saudi king after Cavusoglu brought up the issue. The pair is now heading back to Turkey.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”. The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.
While strongly backing its ally Qatar, Turkey has stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia’s actions and called on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.