Parliament speaker defends journalist's accreditation ban
|May 26, 2015, Tuesday/ 18:17:10/ AYDIN ALBAYRAK / ANKARA
Amid concerns that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is adopting heavy-handed tactics to clamp down on opposition media activity, Parliament Speaker Cemil ?i?ek has defended a refusal to grant a prominent journalist accreditation for media events in Parliament.
In a written opinion sent to the Ankara 10th Regional Administrative Court, the Parliament Speaker's Office said that the ban should remain in place. The document was signed on ?i?ek's behalf by the head of Parliament's Bureau of Legal Services, even though the accreditation ban has no basis in parliamentary regulations. The court has since upheld the legality of the ban.
The Bureau of Legal Services based its opinion on a statement by AK Party deputy Cuma I?ten, who claimed in a petition to Parliament that he had been insulted by Kili?, the parliamentary bureau chief of Today's Zaman, who asked I?ten whether he has any evidence for his claim that the faith-based G?len movement -- a civil society group also known as the Hizmet movement -- has close ties with Israel.
Kili? is the first journalist who has been given an accreditation ban in Parliament for having asked a politician a question. His lawyer, ?aglayan Erginay, said in a statement to Today's Zaman that the document Parliament has sent to the court does not provide any reasonable explanation for the ban against Kili?. He added that it is shocking that Parliament has called for the continuation of a ban that is not in line with parliamentary regulations without even investigating the complaint against his client.
"It is really sad that Parliament has defended a complaint that has no legal or regulatory grounds simply in order to extend an unfair ban," Erginay said.
Noting that it is unacceptable that the court has ruled in favor of the ban, Erginay said: "It is obvious that the verdict issued is a caricature of justice. We are faced with a gloomy picture as far as the judiciary is concerned."
Erginay added: "Everything is legally in place for the improperly imposed accreditation ban to be lifted. The Office of the Speaker has violated the freedom of the press, which is protected by the Constitution, based on an unlawful complaint. It has violated fundamental rights and freedoms secured by the Constitution by canceling my client's parliamentary access card as well as preventing him from practicing his profession in Parliament. This practice has had an effect that it will be hard to recover from."