11 media outlets denied permission to cover AK Party congress

A total of 11 media outlets, including the Zaman daily and Cihan news agency, were not given accreditation to attend the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) extraordinary congress being held on Wednesday.

Among those media outlets not given press accreditation are the Yeni Çağ daily, Birgün daily, Aydınlık daily, Evrensel daily and Ulusal Kanal station. The Bugün station, Samanyolu Haber station, Kanal Türk station, Zaman daily and Cihan news agency, known as being affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement that is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, are also among those media outlets not accredited to attend the congress.   

A large-scale propaganda campaign has been conducted by some circles close to the AK Party government against the Hizmet movement and Gülen, particularly since a corruption scandal erupted in December 2013 in which three Cabinet ministers’ sons, many state bureaucrats and well-known businessmen were implicated.

Government officials have accused the Hizmet movement of participating in a “plot” and using the corruption investigation to damage the government. But they have produced no credible evidence to back these claims. Institutions, media outlets, civil society organizations and individuals affiliated with the Hizmet movement have been targeted as part of this large-scale smear campaign being conducted by the AK Party government.  

Wednesday’s AK Party congress will determine the ruling party’s new chairman who will succeed President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as prime minister. Erdoğan was the chairman of the ruling party for over 10 years. Incumbent Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is set to be elected as the new party chairman and new prime minister as he is the only candidate nominated to run in the congress for the chairmanship of the AK Party.

Erdoğan is set to take over the Presidency on Thursday. 

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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