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Turkey Watchdog: 'Banning Sputnik Bureau Head Violates Press Freedom'

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Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) on Wednesday accused Ankara of disrespecting press freedom and urged authorities to allow the Sputnik news agency’s Turkish bureau chief into the country after he was stripped of accreditation and residence permit in Turkey.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The chief editor of Sputnik News Agency’s Turkish bureau, Tural Kerimov, was banned from entering Turkey and, after spending 14 hours in the Istanbul airport, sent back to Moscow.

"Blocking access to the Sputnik news agency and banning the bureau chief Tural Kerimov from entering the country are clear breaches of freedom of media that is under the protection of the domestic and international law, and human rights principles," an assistant to the IHD general secretary, told Sputnik.

The media watchdog said the entry ban was the latest example of attacks launched on international media in the country.

"IHD calls on authorities to respect for freedom of media and will follow the case," it warned, adding media freedom was a "vital function in any democratic society."

Radio Sputnik’s evening program has received an award from the Turkish Journalists' Association “For Advances in Journalism.” - Sputnik International
Kerimov: 'They Confiscated My Residence Permit, Press Card and Passport'
Kerimov arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday but was stopped by a border control officer who said the journalist was flagged as persona non grata by the Turkish authorities.

Later in the day, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said that the decision to ban Kerimov from entering the country was made by Turkey’s security services.

This comes a week after Turkish authorities shut down the agency’s Turkish-language website citing "administrative measures" following a court ruling. The shutdown is the most recent episode of the government’s crackdown on media and free speech in the country following the imprisonment of 14 local journalists.

Turkey's restrictions on freedom of speech have previously been criticized by the international community, including the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Russia and the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Turkey ranks 151th out of 180 countries in the RSF 2016 press freedom index.

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