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Unions heavily criticize new interim government directive on press cards.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Press unions have heavily criticized a controversial new regulation on press cards introduced by the interim Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

The new regulation, published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, will issue permanent press cards for the deputy prime minister, to whom the Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) is subordinated.

The directive also increased the number of members in the Press Cards Commission under BYEGM from 13 to 15, while controversially canceling the accreditation of two press unions and reducing the representation of another from three to one.

The turkish Journalists Federation (TGF), which will no longer have a member in the Press Cards Commission, announced that it would ask the jurisdiction to annul the regulation.

Speaking to Today's Zaman, Nazmi Bilgin, the president of the Turkish Journalists' Association (TGC) criticized BYEGM's unjust practices, which he said is increasingly losing its impartiality. "While press cards of almost 90 of our friends who were qualified to acquire [press cards] were virtually disseized with the general director [of BYEGM] refusing to sign [their cards] despite the commission's approval, it is a monstrosity to allow the issuance of a life-time permanent press card to the deputy prime minister." Bilgin said.

In December last year, the BYEGM made a highly controversial decision to block a number of journalists who were critical of the government from acquiring permanent press cards. In what many believed was a service in the interests of the AK Party government, 94 veteran journalists -- many of whom work for the Zaman, Samanyolu, Cihan, Taraf and BugE-n media outlets -- were denied permanent press cards, regardless of their eligibility.

After stating that the previous regulations were prepared after asking the opinion of the press unions represented in the commission, Bilgin added: "Right now there is [an interim] government that is without character and did not receive a vote of confidence. This regulation has been prepared in a hurry."

On Tuesday, the TGF released a statement criticizing the new regulation that according to the TGF was "prepared for the favor of [those in] power and against democracy". Part of the TGF's statement reads: "After this regulation, the right to issue press cards which affects thousands of journalists is left only to the BYEGM General Directorate as the decisions made by the Press Cards Commission, which now includes 15 members, are invalidated."

E[pounds sterling]NAL LyVANELy / ANKARA (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Aug 25, 2015
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