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Protests break out in London as Erdogan meets Queen, May

The Queen greets the President of the Republic of Turkey as he arrives at Buckingham Palace for an Audience

London, United Kingdom | AFP | Angry protests greeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in London on Tuesday as he met Queen Elizabeth II and held talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Minor scuffles broke out as pro-Erdogan counter-protesters walked in front of Kurdish demonstrators outside Downing Street, with police wrestling some of the ringleaders to the ground.

May said the pair had talked about trade and fighting terrorism, and that she had also insisted that Turkey uphold “democratic values and human rights obligations”.

Erdogan called on Britain to extradite any individuals connected with the Kurdish PKK organisation, warning that “what hurts me today will hurt the UK tomorrow”.

He also dismissed criticism over the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey.

“Your news sources are not right, terrorists and journalists are different,” he said in response to a question on the issue at the Downing Street press conference.

“Just because they have a card, they are not free to go everywhere. Terrorists do not make good journalists.”

Queen Elizabeth II earlier welcomed Erdogan for a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

The three-day visit which wraps up Tuesday comes as the Turkish leader campaigns for re-election after calling a snap poll for June 24, bringing the vote forward by a year and a half.

The move is widely regarded as a plan to shore up his power in the country and comes as international pressure mounts on the president over his suppression of political dissent.

Outside Downing Street on Tuesday, dozens of campaigners assembled in a protest organised by freedom of expression groups English PEN, Index On Censorship and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

RSF says more than 100 journalists have been arrested, 140 media outlets shut down and at least 889 press cards rescinded since a crackdown began in 2016.

– ‘Shameful’ –

“We must make it clear to our government here that we do care about the fundamental freedoms — these values that our own country is anchored upon,” RSF UK chief Rebecca Vincent told protestors.

Calling for the release of imprisoned journalists, she added: “There is an election coming up.

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