The largest opposition group in Turkiye claims that its head is the first person to be prosecuted under a new legislation banning “disinformation” in the media after police ordered prosecutors to look into remarks he made criticizing the government for a drug “epidemic.”
The government’s proposed law, which empowers judges to impose jail terms of up to three years on people who propagate false or misleading information, was approved by parliament last month.
Before Turkiye’s elections next year, critics say the law’s definition of what constitutes false or misleading speech is ambiguous and subject to abuse. They also say the legislation has raised serious concerns about free speech and raised concerns about who might face legal action.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), claimed on Twitter on Monday that Turkiye’s current account deficit had been financed with “dirty money” from drug smuggling and that Ankara had not inquired about the source of the money brought into the nation.
Erdogan referred to Kilicdaroglu’s claim as “vile” on Wednesday and asserted that Turkiye was successfully battling the illicit drug trade.
Many consider Kilicdaroglu to be the most likely challenger to Erdogan in the next June presidential election.
Kilicdaroglu was “the first target of the censorship law… (which) has produced its first fruit,” according to senior CHP lawmaker Engin Altay, who made the statement on Thursday.
According to Altay and media reports, Kilicdaroglu was the subject of a complaint from the Turkish police headquarters to the chief prosecutor on the claims made in the Twitter video, requesting the start of a legal proceeding. The interior ministry and police declined to comment.
According to the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, the police complaint claimed that the Twitter video had attempted to discredit the police with “unfounded” charges and called for a legal proceeding for “spreading false information to the public.”
The new rule, according to the government, intends to control internet publications, safeguard the nation, and fight misinformation. The criticism from rights organizations and Turkiye’s Western friends has been disregarded.