Reporters Without Borders slams ‘censorship’ on Mosul kidnappings over coverage ban
Shiite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, sit with their weapons in Baghdad, June 18, 2014. REUTERS PhotoReporters Without Borders has denounced the Turkish government’s management of the crisis in Iraq, slamming the “censorship” on the coverage of the kidnapping of 80 Turkish citizens near Mosul by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
The media freedom nongovernmental organization described the Turkish heavy penal court’s June 16 ruling ordering a ban on reports related to the kidnapping of 49 staff members of Mosul consulate and 31 truck drivers “out of all proportion” and an attempt to suppress criticism.
“This blatant act of censorship violates the Turkish public’s right to be informed about a subject of general interest,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
“Even if the government is rightly concerned for the safety of the hostages, its policies in Syria are the subject of public debate. Trying to suppress criticism instead of facing up to its responsibilities is unacceptable. We call on the courts to immediately lift this ban, which is out of all proportion,” he added.
The ruling was delivered to media outlets by Turkey’s Supreme Board of Radio and Television on June 17. Failure to comply with the ban could lead to cash fines and the suspension of broadcasts or publication.
Ankara has resorted to similar bans in the past as well. Last February, a ban was imposed on the publication of reports related to the search of two trucks containing weapons, which belonged to Turkish intelligence and were bound for Syria. The coverage of the deadly attack in the town of Reyhanlı on May 11, 2013 that killed 53 people was also banned by a court order.