Turkey Bans Paris Based Press Watchdog

PARIS (Reuters)–Turkey banned a Paris-based media rights watchdog on Wednesday from entering the country after the group enraged the government with an exhibition which portrayed its top general as one of the world’s "enemies of the press."

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said they had been told by the Turkish embassy in Paris they must not enter Turkey.

The embassy confirmed the report and said it was passing on a message from Ankara.

"We passed on the message to RSF that the relevant authorities in Turkey have decided to forbid them access to Turkish territory,” an embassy spokeswoman told Reuters.

The announcement came on the same day Turkey’s parliament passed a media law widely criticized as an assault on media freedom and a threat to the country’s internet industry.

Political analysts and journalists have said the law encourages monopolies and curbs press freedom at a time when European Union candidate Turkey must expand civil liberties to launch accession talks with Brussels.

Supporters say the law contains enough safeguards to stop monopolies thriving.

RSF said it had asked to meet authorities in Istanbul and planned to hold a news conference afterwards to explain why it listed Chief of Staff General Huseyin Kivrikoglu in an exhibition in Paris last week as a "predator of press freedom."

"RSF thinks this attitude is appalling," the non-governmental group said in a statement. "It reveals that Turkish authorities are incapable of talking to an independent organization."

A furious Turkey last week threatened to freeze military agreemen’s with its NATO ally–France–over the display–which features a photograph of Kivrikoglu alongside 38 others they claim are enemies of the press.

The exhibition at the Saint Lazare railway station shut down last week after about 30 Turkish demonstrators and journalists trashed it–RSF said.

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