A Turkish NGO and a press union say they will file a criminal complaint against the pro-government Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) for allegedly blacklisting journalists, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Sunday.
A number of journalists, Turkish press unions and international media organizations have denounced a recent report published by SETA, which has close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party, for criminalizing journalism by using intelligence-gathering tactics.
The complaint against SETA will reportedly be filed by the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) and the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), an NGO offering journalists legal protection.
Its report which is titled, Turkey extensions of international media organizations, covers detailed information on numerous prominent international news sources that include Deutsche Welle Turkish, BBC Turkish, and Sputnik Turkey.
Prepared by Ismail Caglar, Kevser Hulya Akdemir, and Seca Toker, the 196-page report published on Saturday examines foreign media outlets from their foundation up until today. It also provides journalists’ resumes and examples of social media posts.
The SETA report drew strong criticism from journalists, press unions, foreign media outlets, and critics who accused the pro-government research institute of profiling journalists through methods used by the Turkish police for gathering intelligence.
However, the head of the SETA research team, Ismail Caglar, argued on Twitter that the report is based on information that had been collected by using open resources.
“If there are any mistakes in the report, share with us, we will correct it and apologize for it. The rest is your ideological judgments, they do not interest us,” he added. But Christoph Jumpelt, Deutsche Welle’s spokesperson defined the report as an effort to discredit journalists working with foreign press organizations.
“This [report] is unacceptable. We deny any claims it has about us. DW will continue to cover news about the developments in Turkey with its own understanding of reporting, which is impartial and objective,” DW cited Jumpelt as saying.
The Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) outlined the report in a written statement as an evident targeting of critical journalists and said it is nothing less than a police report of profiling.
“This report is a heavy blow to Turkey’s democracy and freedom of [the] press and expression,” the TGC added.
“Those who had prepared this report should keep in mind that they will be responsible for any kind of assaults on the journalists they targeted in here,” the association emphasized, expressing their support for every one of those journalists.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) also argued that those who prepared ordered or published the report is responsible for any incident that might happen to journalists targeted by it.
The Progressive Journalists Association (CGD), another prominent press union in Turkey stated on social media that the report will go down in history as “a black stain.”
The Turkey representative of the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Erol Onderoglu on Saturday said that the organization condemned those responsible for the report.
He said that pro-gov’t SETA displayed its “explicit intolerance” against the staff of international media outlets by using the word “extension” in the report’s headline and by “pointing them as a target.”
“If there would be a fair jurisdiction in the country, the journalists who are being criminalized [in the report] would definitely win the lawsuit [against those who prepared the report]. This is an explicit crime,” Fatih Polat, the editor-in-chief of the left-wing Evrensel newspaper, said.