Journalist detained for ‘spreading misinformation’ released under judicial supervision

Journalist Cengiz Erdinç

A Turkish journalist who was detained in western Turkey on Thursday on accusations of spreading misinformation has been released under judicial supervision after testifying to a prosecutor, Turkish Minute reported, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Journalist Cengiz Erdinç’s detention was ordered by Ankara prosecutors, who accused the him of “openly spreading misleading information.”

The journalist, who was detained at his home in the Ayvalık district of Balıkesir on Thursday, was released after providing a statement to the Ankara prosecutor conducting the investigation via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS) on Friday.

The prosecutor requested judicial supervision measures for Erdinç, including a travel ban and a requirement to check in at a police station once a week.

Government pressure on the media has recently intensified, with authorities detaining journalists Tolga Şardan and Dinçer Gökçe, both on similar grounds, on Wednesday.

Şardan was arrested by a court on Thursday, charged by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office with “public dissemination of misleading information” under Article 217/A of the Turkish Penal Code, which was amended by the 2022 disinformation law.

Last year the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed controversial legislation that criminalized the dissemination of “false or misleading information.” Since the law’s enactment, the authorities have detained and prosecuted several members of the press as well as social media users based on it.

Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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