close
Monday June 17, 2024

Turkish court rejects challenge to ‘disinformation’ law

By AFP
November 09, 2023
In this handout photograph taken and released by Kazakhstan’s Presidential Press Service on November 3, 2023, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) poses with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (L) after presenting him a Turkish-made TOGG electric car, on the sideline of the 10th Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS), in Astana. — AFP
In this handout photograph taken and released by Kazakhstan’s Presidential Press Service on November 3, 2023, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) poses with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (L) after presenting him a Turkish-made TOGG electric car, on the sideline of the 10th Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS), in Astana. — AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkiye´s constitutional court on Wednesday rejected a legal challenge against a new media law, which makes the dissemination of “misleading” information punishable by up to three years in prison.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan´s right-wing ruling coalition pushed the hugely controversial legislation through parliament last year. The so-called “disinformation” law -- branded the “censorship” law by Erdogan´s critics -- expands the reach of earlier media regulations to also cover online publications and social media platforms.

The opposition challenged a new clause in the legislation making it illegal to “disseminate misleading information to the public”. The majority vote ruling came days after a lower court ordered the release pending trial of a prominent reporter who was jailed last week for publishing a story about alleged judicial corruption.

Reporter Tolga Sardan was charged with disseminating “misinformation” and held in suburban Istanbul´s notorious Marmara prison. Dozens of journalists and opposition lawmakers staged a vigil outside the constitutional court on Wednesday waiting for the ruling.

Jail sentences of three years or less are rarely enforced in Turkiye. But they usually require those found guilty to appear at follow-up court hearings and result in heavy legal costs.

Analysts estimate that roughly 90 percent of Turkiye´s media have fallen under the control of the government and its business allies during Erdogan´s two decades in power. Turkiye was ranked 165th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders´ 2023 World Press Freedom Index.