Communications director denies Turkey cancelled journalists’ press cards

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PHOTO: Milli Gazete

Fahrettin Altun, the head of Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate, has denied reports published last week which claimed that Turkey had cancelled the press credentials of journalists working for leftist dailies, the Diken news website reported on Monday.

“The claims about the cancellation of press cards of journalists working some of the media outlets is definitely untrue,” Altun said, adding that a review process was underway in accordance with relevant regulations.

“Besides the technical criteria, we take into consideration whether the applicants actually engage in professional activities, if they have links to terrorist groups, if they have been handed down sentences or if they have displayed attitudes beneath the dignity of the profession.”

Meanwhile, BBC Turkish service reported that the communications directorate had revoked its decision to cancel press cards for 894 journalists.

Yet, the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), whose chairman Gökhan Durmuş staged a demonstration in front of the directorate, asked “Where are our press cards, then?”

On Friday a series of reports in the Turkish media claimed that press cards were canceled for journalists working for the leftist Evrensel and Birgün newspapers, based on accounts of journalists who checked the status of their press cards and received a note saying “cancelled.”

They had to apply for renewal after the Press Cards Commission was subordinated to the presidency from the prime ministry as part of Turkey’s transition into an executive presidential system.

It has been over a year since the directorate started issuing new press cards; however, many journalists have yet to receive theirs due to the ongoing review process.

It is difficult for journalists to do their jobs without a press card in Turkey as they need them for accreditation to attend certain events, follow trials and enter the Turkish Parliament.

Government critics and journalists in Turkey have been under pressure especially since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, following which dozens of journalists were arrested and more than 400 media outlets were closed down under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

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