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Two journalists detained in S. Arabia for 10 hours

June 18, 2017

ISTANBUL: Saudi Arabia detained two journalists working 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 on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu late on Friday held talks with Saudi King Salman in Makkah aimed at easing the crisis over the diplomatic and economic isolation of Ankara’s ally Qatar.

Correspondent Hasan Abdullah, a Pakistani citizen, 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 Saudi king, the Hurriyet daily said.

Abdullah said in a statement the pair “were detained from our hotel by Saudi police in Makkah 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.

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.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2017