Istanbul, March 22, 2023 – Turkish authorities should reverse their decision not to extend the operating license of Deutsche Welle’s Turkey office and allow the German public broadcaster to operate freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On March 28, DW plans to close its Turkey office after the country’s Industry and Technology Ministry declined to extend its license, allegedly due to a technical error in its application forms, according to news reports, a report by DW, and Erkan Arıkan, director of Turkish Services for DW, who communicated with CPJ by email.
“Turkish authorities should immediately renew Deutsche Welle’s operating license and stop efforts to hinder press freedom in the country,” said Özgür Öğret, CPJ’s Turkey representative. “Denying DW’s license serves only to disrupt the broadcaster’s activities and deny Turkish citizens critical, independent reporting as elections approach.”
DW did not receive a warning from the ministry about any mistake in its application before the license decision was made, Arıkan said, adding that DW’s operations have not changed since it was last approved for a license two years ago.
“The Turkish authorities know who DW is and what kind of operations it has very well,” Arıkan said. “We suspect that the government is putting pressure on the related authorities in order to make our journalistic activities in Turkey even harder.”
DW does not plan to cease its operations in Turkey and aims to reapply for its license, but the lack of a license will force the employees to essentially become freelancers, which will result in the loss of government benefits such as social security, Arıkan said. He added that DW journalists in Turkey already cannot get official press cards from authorities.
In July 2022, authorities blocked the websites of DW and the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America. CPJ’s email to the Industry and Technology Ministry of Turkey did not receive any response.