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Deputy questions denial of journalists' press cards in Parliament.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kyrklareli deputy Turgut Dibek submitted a parliamentary question on Wednesday concerning a decision by the Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) to block 94 veteran journalists -- many of whom work for the Zaman, Samanyolu, Cihan, Taraf and BugE-n media outlets -- from acquiring permanent press cards, regardless of their eligibility.

"What is the reason for the denial of press cards to 94 journalists by the Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Press and Information [BYEGM]? On the basis of which regulation did the BYEGM refuse to approve the granting of the press cards even though the Press Card Commission officially announced on Dec. 14 that those journalists are eligible to obtain permanent press cards?" Dibek asked.

The BYEGM made a highly controversial decision to block a number of journalists from acquiring permanent press cards during a meeting held last December. Although the Press Card Commission, which is assigned to assess the journalists' eligibility to obtain press cards, authorized the issuance of press cards for 208 new applicants, the directorate declined to award cards to a number of journalists applying to extend the validity of cards already in their possession.

In the question, which was directed at Deputy Prime Minister Yalcyn Akdoy-an, Dibek also demanded to know whether the press cards of the 94 journalists were denied because of their anti-government stances.

"The Press Card Commission met on Dec. 14 [of last year] and decided 94 journalists had obtained the right to have a permanent press card. However, the BYEGM has announced that it did not approve of the 94 journalists acquiring permanent press cards. Among the journalists who were denied a press card are Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanly, Zaman Deputy Editor-in-Chief Mehmet KamyE-, TV producer CE-neyt Euzdemir, HE-rriyet Daily News Editor-in-Chief Murat Yetkin, Aksiyon Editor in-Chief BE-lent Korucu, Cihan news agency Chief Editor AbdE-lhamit Bilici, Aydynlyk columnist Hacer E[currency]ule Perincek and many other prominent journalists and TV producers. As the deputy prime minister, were you informed or involved in the decision to deny the permanent press card applications?" Dibek asked.

According to Turkish press law, journalists who complete 20 years of service become eligible for permanent press cards.

BYEGM decision draws ire from many

Releasing a statement regarding the issue, Turkey's Press Council has slammed the BYEGM for refusing to grant the journalists their press cards even though they are eligible, calling the decision a clear indication of discrimination against the media. "The decision makers have to explain the reason for this decision or immediately bring this discrimination to an end. We, members of Turkey's Press Council, ask one more time, what is the reason behind this decision?" the statement read.

Speaking to Today's Zaman by phone, Euzdemir harshly criticized the BYEGM's decision refusing to grant him a permanent press card. "I have been doing this job for almost 25 years. But the head [of the BYEGM] who has no experience in journalism decides whether I get a press card or not. Journalism has never been easy in this county but it has never been under this much pressure before either," the TV producer said.

CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrykulu also criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government about the matter, saying he was not surprised by the decision as the government always tends to keep the media under pressure. "From now on, those who are critical of the government will not be able to receive a press card. If you want it, you need to be pro-government," Tanrykulu stated.

The Turkish Journalists Federation (TGF) and Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) also expressed their displeasure in a statement they released on Tuesday. TGF Chairman Atilla Sertel, who is also a member of the Press Card Commission, said that after the commission approves the press cards, the BYEGM general director must approve the granting of the cards by signing off on it. "Insisting on not giving permanent press cards to the 94 journalists even though their cards were approved by the commission is an incomprehensible situation. The head of the BYEGM must explain why he did this," Sertel said.

The Press Card Commission is a 13-member commission that consists of representatives from journalist federations and journalist unions, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) officials and two bureaucrats from the BYEGM.

E[currency]eyma Bal, ystanbul (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Jan 14, 2015
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