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Turkey changes criteria to acquire press card, makes cancellations easier

A new regulation that resets the criteria for journalists to acquire press cards in Turkey was published in the Official Gazette on Friday in a move that disappointed and angered journalism organizations as it makes the cancellation of press cards easier, the Evrensel daily reported.

The new regulation includes several controversial articles that are said to curb freedom of the press. In the section concerning the cancellation of press cards, a new article has been added, saying that press cards shall be cancelled if journalists act against national security or the public order or make a habit of displaying such behavior.

Until recently, Turkey’s General Directorate of Press and Information was tied to the prime ministry but was subordinated to the presidency after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected president under a newly adopted executive presidency that greatly expanded his powers.

It was already a matter of criticism that the directorate issuing press cards was not independent but rather under state control, a situation that continues.

The press cards of hundreds of journalists in Turkey were canceled on terrorism charges in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016, when the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on its opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

In the meantime, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association released a statement on Friday condemning the new regulation and claimed that it aims to turn journalists into civil servants.

The association said it will take legal action for cancellation of the regulation.

Meanwhile, according to a report released on Thursday by media freedom advocacy group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Turkey remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists with at least 68 journalists behind bars due to their work.

The CPJ report found that a total of 251 journalists are jailed around the world.

Most of the journalists in Turkey were arrested following the failed coup on terrorism charges.

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