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Turkish journalists ‘will go to court’ to challenge changes in press card system

Аn abrupt change in the regulations about who is able to carry a press card in Turkey triggered strong reaction from the country’s professional journalists’ organizations.

The change was forced through by the government bureaucracy without any consultations with the representatives of the journalists. It modified the composition of the committee that decides who is eligible to carry a press card issued by the government’s Department of Press and Publications. Formerly, the majority of the committee was made up of representatives of journalists’ associations and unions. The new amendment increases the membership of the press card committee from 13 to 15 and reduces the representatives of the profession from eight to five. The rest of the members are to be selected by the government bureaucracy.

At a press conference over the weekend the President of the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC), Turgay Olcayto, and Ugur Guc, the president of the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) announced that they were withdrawing from the committee and will start legal action against the one-sided measure taken by the government bureaucracy.

“The new statute is nothing more than an attempt to put the press cards under the arbitrary control of the government,” the president of TGC, Olcayto declared during the press conference. He also pointed out that the “radical change” has been carried out hastily at a time Turkey is under a caretaker government until snap elections due on November 1. TGC is the largest professional organization of journalists’ in Turkey with nearly 5,000 members.

The president of the TGS, Guc, said, “There is no sense for us in remaining in the committee as extras, we are withdrawing from it and going to court in order to correct this illegitimate situation.”