BBC Condemns Turkish Politician's Twitter Campaign Against Correspondent

Amid protests against Turkey's prime minister, the mayor of Ankara tried "to discredit the BBC and intimidate its journalists," the U.K. broadcaster says.

LONDON -- British public broadcaster BBC has expressed its dismay and concern over a Twitter campaign by a Turkish politician against one of its reporters covering anti-government protests in the country.

Ibrahim Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, Turkey's capital, used the micro-blogging service to accuse the correspondent, Selin Girit, of "treachery" and of being a foreign agent, The Guardian reported. He maligned her coverage of protests against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, of whose party he is a member.

The BBC was "very concerned" by the attempt "to discredit the BBC and intimidate its journalists," Peter Horrocks, BBC global news director, said.

The Guardian also quoted him as saying: "A large number of threatening messages have been sent to one of our reporters who was named and attacked on social media by the mayor of Ankara for her coverage of the current protests. The BBC and all its journalists are committed to providing impartial and independent journalism. It is unacceptable for our journalists to be directly targeted in this way."

Added Horrocks, "There are established procedures for making comments and complaints about BBC output, and we call on the Turkish authorities to use these proper channels."

"Who is @selingirit? BBC's reporter in Turkey. Led by England, they are trying to collapse our economy via agents hired, both nationally and internationally," Gokcek had tweeted. "They are dreaming for Turkey to be the 'Sick man of Europe' once again."

The International Federation of Journalists also criticized the Turkish politician for his Twitter campaign. The group's president, Jim Boumelha, asked the Turkish authorities to "stop targeting and intimidating journalists and allow them to report protests without fear and censorship."

Twitter: @georgszalai