Turkey announced on Saturday it has canceled the press credentials of 685 journalists working in the country over claims of posing a threat to national security.
The step came amid condemnations launched by human rights organizations that accuse the Turkish government of tightening restrictions on journalists.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay confirmed on Saturday the cancellation of the cards.
During a parliamentary budget planning session, Oktay said Turkey granted a total of 343 yellow, or temporary, new press cards in 2019 while canceling the press cards of 685 journalists over links to groups that are considered a threat to national security.
Since December 2018, Ankara started to implement new regulation on press cards, allowing for authorities to cancel press credentials of journalists over security-related reasons while placing restrictions on obtaining them.
According to the regulation, a journalist must never “engage in behavior against national security and public order” to be able to hold a press card.
Also, the Directorate of Communications, which operates under the Turkish presidency and is responsible for issuing press cards, is allowed to cancel the existing press cards of journalists convicted of such behavior.
In 2018, the Committee To Protect Journalists said that for the third consecutive year, Turkey remains the worst jailer of journalists with 68--or over a quarter of those imprisoned worldwide--behind bars for their work.
Meanwhile, the UK-based Amnesty International launched this week a campaign calling for the immediate release of jailed Turkish journalist Ahmet Altan.
On Nov. 12, renowned Turkish author and former newspaper editor Ahmet Altan was detained after a court overturned the decision taken on 4 November to release him from over three years in detention.
Altan has been accused of having links to the outlawed movement of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of ordering the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.