Turkey’s opposition leader blast pro-gov’t think tank over report blacklisting journalists

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Tuesday harshly criticised a recent pro-government think tank report, which is accused of profiling journalists working for foreign news outlets.

The 202-page report, released by the Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research (SETA) on Friday, lists foreign news networks with Turkish services, such as BBC and Deutsche Welle, as well as the Turkish journalists who work for them, sharing detailed information about their past work and social media posts.

"This report is a disgrace to our media history. It is profiling. If you otherise journalists, where are we to receive accurate news from? SETA is an organisation which feeds off the ruling power,’’ left-wing news site quoted Kılıçdaroğlu as saying, in an apparent reference to SETA’s links to the Turkish government.

The leader of Turkey’s opposition went on to say that 95 percent of the country’s media was not independent while criticising the move by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday to sack the governor of the central bank.

The Turkish president replaced the central bank governor with his deputy by way of presidential decree on Saturday, following months of tension with the government over the bank’s refusal to follow Erdoğan’s command and cut interest rates.

The report by SETA, which brands itself as an independent and non-partisan think tank, has come under heavy criticism from journalists and media organisations, which have accused it of gathering intelligence in a bid to criminalise independent jounalism. The Turkish Union of Journalist (TGS) on Monday filed a criminal complaint over the controversial report. 

Publicly available information on the journalists was "cherry-picked" and put together in a manipulative manner, the union said. 

SETA, for its part, has denied the criticism, saying its report was based on open sources and did not contain any other information than the public journalistic activities of the individuals it featured.

"This is not a report that focuses on opposition journalists. It is legitimate for journalists to have a political stance as well as identifying it," it said.