Court blocks reporting on ban on news about agency linked to Turkish first lady

A Turkish court has blocked access to news stories covering a ban on reports on the Turkish Environment Agency (TÜÇA), which was established in 2020 under the auspices of Turkey’s first lady, Emine Erdoğan, Turkish Minute reported.

The initial ban was imposed on news pieces saying in late May that the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change gave the authority to hold a tender for eyebolts and buoys for all Turkish coasts to TÜÇA, which has links to Erdoğan.

The agency says on its website that it was established on Dec. 24, 2020 by Law No. 7261 to “prevent environmental pollution and ensure the protection, improvement and development of green areas,” among other things.

The initial access ban was imposed on a number of news pieces, including one written by Birgün daily editor Gökay Başcan, according to Turkish media reports.

Over a new complaint filed by the first lady, a local court decided to remove the content of 24 other news stories covering the initial access ban imposed on pieces on TÜÇA, saying that they “violate the personal rights” of Erdoğan.

Among the 24 news pieces were those covering comments of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba that are critical of the initial access ban.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government increased its crackdown on critical media outlets and journalists in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016, following which dozens of journalists were jailed while more than 200 media outlets were closed down under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 90 percent of the national media in Turkey, which was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, is owned by pro-government businessmen and toe the official line.

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