November 12, 2015

WAN-IFRA condemns accreditation ban on critical media outlets for G-20

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) condemned the recent move by the Turkish government to not grant accreditation to critical Turkish media outlets, including the Zaman, Sözcü and Today's Zaman dailies, to cover the G-20 summit.

The summit which is to take place in the southern province of Antalya in Turkey on Nov. 15-16 will have several world leaders and press members from many countries in attendance. However, several Turkish media outlets which are critical of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government are still waiting to be granted accreditation.

Reporters from Zaman, Today's Zaman, Sözcü and the Cihan news agency and Samanyolu TV are still waiting for their accreditation to be granted despite the fact that the Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) granted accreditation for most Turkish media outlets approximately one month ago.

“WAN-IFRA and WEF are seriously concerned that the Turkish government may be using journalists' accreditation as a tool of censorship,” a press release published on WAN-IFRA's website on Thursday said.

The press release also reminded Turkey that “A government should not deny access to media seeking to report on an event of immense national and international importance to punish them for their editorial opinions.”

The deteriorating state of media freedom in Turkey was also pointed out in the press release, which read, “The government's failure to accredit critical media follows deterioration in press freedom in Turkey, including, most recently, a police raid on the Zaman Media Group on Wednesday, and a prosecutor's demand for an arrest warrant for Ekrem Dumanlı, the ex-editor-in-chief of Zaman, on charges of attempting to topple the government.”

Citing the recent attacks on press freedom in Turkey, including the attacks on the daily Hürriyet and its staff, the arrest and detention of two British journalists and their interpreter working for VICE News on charges of working for a terrorist organization and assisting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), WAN-IFRA said that it is “seriously concerned that these incidents form part of a systematic campaign by the Turkish government to intimidate independent media.” It also said in the release that such a campaign would violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.”

WAN-IFRA, an organization which represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, called on the Turkish authorities to take all possible steps to ensure that accreditation is not used as a tool to censor critical media and to respect the universal right of freedom of expression.

“Defending the press freedom in Turkey must be a priority issue on the agenda of all democratic G-20 countries,” the press release concluded.

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 November 2015, Thursday