Turkey refuses to renew accreditation of German reporters

Turkish authorities have declined to renew two senior German correspondents’ accreditation, without giving reasons, Al-Jazeera reported on Sunday. 

Germany's public broadcaster ZDF said on Friday that the head of its Istanbul studio, Joerg Brase, had his application rejected. Berlin-based daily Tagesspiegel said correspondent Thomas Seibert, who has been working in Turkey since 1997, was told his accreditation was being withdrawn. Both journalists planned to appeal since Turkey's decision means neither two reporters can continue to work in Turkey. 

The German government has criticised Turkey's decision. Senior foreign ministry official Andreas Michaelis protested the decision in a phone call with the Turkish ambassador and asked Ankara for its reversal, according to Al-Jazeera.

"The decision is incomprehensible," said ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr.

ZDF Deputy Editor-in-Chief Bettina Schausten called the decision "not only regrettable but completely incomprehensible." She also said that ZDF would object to the decision. 

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Turkey's refusal to renew Brase and Seibert's press cards was an unacceptable "de-facto sacking." The group's director, Christian Mihr, demanded that Turkey issue press cards for the two men immediately.

Turkey’s record on press freedoms has been a prolonged area of concern for RSF, which placed the country 157th out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index in 2018.

The media rights watchdog called Turkey the “world’s biggest jailer of journalists” in the 2018 report, noting that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had shut down dozens of media outlets in a “witch hunt” during the two-year state of emergency following the coup attempt in July 2016.