An award-winning photographer who was removed from the Conservative party conference despite having a press pass has criticized the security for “abusing” him.
Tolga Akmen, a staff photojournalist at the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), said he photographed Liz Truss crossing the bridge to the International Convention Center in Birmingham before going into the hall where the prime minister was due to deliver her speech on Wednesday.
But a video on social media shows Akmen being violently moved by two men as he tells the photographer he was “aggressive”, to which he responds: “I’m a member of the media. Can you please stop this?
“What are you doing? I haven’t done anything…I promise you, I haven’t done anything.”
Akmen said after the footage was taken, he was “thrown into the rain” without his gear and jacket, which were later recovered by security.
The 31-year-old told the PA news agency: “There was no need for manhandling. We could have talked about it. I tried not to get in where I wasn’t allowed.
“I don’t see anyone else being scolded and I don’t know why they bullied me. I happen to be someone who was arguing, and they don’t [take] kindly for that.
“We should have access and be accredited media. I showed them my press card. I have never experienced anything like this in my life.”
Akmen said the incident started when he showed his press card to security and tried to enter through the nearest entrance, but was denied entry.
The staff photographer said he and his colleagues then walked to another entrance before hearing a guard relay his description, saying he “acted aggressively and needed to be stopped”.
That same guard, he claims, followed him and then “selected him” from the other journalists and “started pushing and dragging him away” with other security personnel.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We are aware that there was an incident earlier today in which a photographer was removed by security personnel from the venue. We believe there may have been a misunderstanding and have been in contact with the photographer.”
Akmen confirmed that Conservative campaign headquarters had been contacted to apologize, adding that he was awaiting a formal apology.