Gulnoza Said, Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on the 15th July sent a letter to Turkey’s presidential communications director, Fahrettin Altun regarding Turkey’s press card regulations, which was put into effect in 2018.
Said noted that local journalist organisations have filed suits alleging that the updates in the regulations introduced by Altun’s office “do not resolve the problems raised by Turkey’s Council of State”, which, in April, suspended changes to the press card regulations that had been made in 2018, saying that those rules enabled journalists’ cards to be canceled for “arbitrary or ambiguous reasons”.
Said referred to a tweet of Altun saying that those rules would “prevent those who make propaganda for terrorism and violence from hiding behind the press card.”
“However, far from being a shield used for such purposes, many journalists cannot obtain press cards at all, according to CPJ interviews and research,” she said.
Journalists told CPJ that they believe the process to obtain press cards is “discriminatory and partisan”, and some who cover the government critically have said they would not even consider applying, even if they meet the criteria, because they do not believe that they will be approved.
“Furthermore, hundreds of journalists who had previously held press credentials have been waiting indefinitely for new press cards after being forced to reapply due to a change in the card’s color. Moreover, journalists working at digital media outlets do not qualify for cards at all, an obvious problem in the age of digital journalism,” Said also noted.
She stressed that the press card should be easily obtainable, and its acreditation should not be subject to discrimination based on a journalist or outlet’s politics, coverage, or medium.
Said urged the Turkish authorities to abandon their “hostile rhetoric toward journalists in Turkey” and to “take the necessary steps to remove all hints of partisanship within the press card process, and to grant the card immediately to all journalists who meet its requirements regardless of their medium or political focus.”