International journalist bodies have raised their voices against Turkey over deporting journalist Steve Sweeney, international editor, and writer for Britain’s left-wing daily, Morning Star, on March 29, just before the local election in the country.
Officials had barred Sweeney from entering Turkey where he would cover the local election in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish regions.
Michelle Stanistreet general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), a UK-based European journalists’ union has said that journalists should be able to perform their duties in Turkey without fear of intimidation and persecution.
“Steve Sweeney should have the right to carry out his job as a journalist and not be denounced in a trumped-up accusation of being a security threat,” Stanistreet commented.
International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest organization of journalists “utterly” condemned the incident, describing it as another example of Turkey’s obvious violation of human and workers rights.
Carles Torner executive director of PEN International – the first worldwide association of writers – declared in lieu of barring foreign journalists, Turkish authorities should grant them unrestricted access for the events like elections in a bid to show they have nothing to conceal.
“The authorities should abide by their international commitments to uphold media freedom and stop interfering with news organizations once and for all,” Torner added.
English PEN called on Turkey to allow Turkish and international journalists to report freely, pointing to the latest detention of foreign journalists and activists that have traveled to Turkey.
The European Federation of Journalists and Index on Censorship have also voiced their criticisms over Turkey’s deportation, while Peace in Kurdistan, published a thanks message for Sweeney, who it says had reported fairly and accurately on the Turkish political situation for years.
Sweeney alleged that he has received death threats from fans of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on social media since he was told about his deportation.
International journalist bodies have approached the Turkish embassy and Britain’s Foreign Office for comment, however, not received any.
Crackdown on media continues in Turkey
Turkey ranks 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international media rights group.
RSF called Turkey the “world’s biggest jailer of journalists” in its 2018 report, stating that the ruling AKP shut down dozens of media outlets during the two-year-run state of emergency in the sake of the coup attempt in July 2016.
AKP prevents journalists from receiving accreditation cards
RSF also blamed AKP for deliberately delaying accreditation grants to foreign journalists in a bid to restrict foreign reporting, when some European journalists were barred from entering a press conference held by Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak and EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen in March.
The issuing of credentials allows foreign journalists official permission to work in Turkey, right along with a precondition of residence permit. If not issued once a year, journalists cannot attend press conferences and other official state events, thus rendering them useless to perform their jobs properly.
“There are other 17 German journalists still waiting for their press card renewals, apart from around 30 journalists from other nationalities,” said Frank Nordhausen, a foreign correspondent for Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau, who is one of three German reporters whose credentials were denied by the Turkish authorities.