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Journalists from Basque-language media refused accreditation at Biarritz Summit

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Minister of the Interior Daniel Vaillant, RSF expressed surprise at the rejection of accreditation requests submitted by journalists from Basque-language media to cover the European Union summit which begins on 13 October 2000 in Biarritz. "These unwarranted rejections which affect many journalists are very surprising," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general. "We ask that you reconsider these decisions or justify them," added Ménard.

According to information obtained by RSF, thirteen journalists from Basque-language media did not receive accreditation to cover the summit. Those affected include four reporters from the Basque-language daily "Egunkaria", three from the bilingual Basque/Spanish daily "Gara", two journalists from the Basque autonomous government in Spain's public radio-television service, three from the Euskal Irratiak federation of Basque-language associative radio stations, and an Associated Press (AP) agency photographer who has worked for Basque-language publications. The accreditation badge which the AP photographer had previously obtained was revoked.

Accreditation is controlled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to information received by RSF, the accreditation requests received by local press representatives are only granted following the Ministry of the Interior's approval. The AP photographer allegedly had his accreditation badge revoked by officials from the president's "security cell".

The thirteen journalists announced that they would place their work materials in front of the sub-branch of the Bayonne police station on the morning of Friday 13 October to protest what they call "obvious discrimination against Basque-language media."

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