The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned Turkey’s cancellation of the press cards of over a dozen journalists and staff members of the independent daily Evrensel.
The newspaper said that at least 17 of its journalists, including Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, had their press cards cancelled without explanation. Among those whose press cards are cancelled are the daily’s managing editor, news editor, news reductor, page designer, photojournalists and reporters.
IPI views the development as part of the government’s ongoing targeting of Evrensel for its critical journalism and calls on the authorities to immediately revoke the decision and provide an immediate explanation.
“This is another brazen attack on independent journalism and critical media”, IPI Turkey Programme Manager Oliver Money-Kyrle said. “Evrensel is targeted for being one of the last remaining newspapers committed to independent journalism in Turkey.”
The news was discovered this morning when the website of Turkey’s Communications Directorate, which is directly supervised by the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, marked the status of the journalists’ press card applications as “cancelled’.
Turkey’s Press Card Council was restructured in July 2018 under the Communications Directorate. According to the most recent statement by Vice President Fuat Oktay in response to a parliamentary question on press cards in October 2019, 3,804 press cards have been cancelled since 2015.
Local news also reported that the press cards of members and executives of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) were also among those cancelled, including the chair of TGS, who also works at Evrensel as assistant news editor. The total number of cancelled press cards is yet unclear.
Evrensel has been a long-term target for the authorities and subjected to continuous attacks by various state institutions applying financial pressure on the newspaper as well as numerous criminal lawsuits against the newspaper’s executives.
Evrensel is also suffering from a four-month ban from public sector advertising revenue applied by the state’s advertising agency, BİK, since September. Should the ban exceed six months, Evrensel will lose its entitlement for public advertisement permanently.
IPI relaunched its I Subscribe campaign for Evrensel in December 2018 to show solidarity in its fight against financial pressure and provide a platform to increase the daily’s international subscribers.