Turkey’s broadcast regulator, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), fined pro-opposition TELE1 TV a day after the Ministry of Interior had threatened the station in a press statement for its critical coverage of the release of Musa Orhan, a noncommissioned officer accused of abducting and raping an 18-year-old woman who committed suicide, according to Turkish media.
Orhan was initially released under judicial supervision but after mounting criticism and public outrage, he was put in pre-trial detention last week. Following a formal objection by his lawyer to a high criminal court, he was released on Tuesday.
TELE1 was fined for broadcasting ads from the Evrensel daily that include the picture of a little girl holding a piece of cloth which features the colors of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) flag: yellow, green and red. The same colors are also used in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government flag and are considered to be traditionally associated with the Kurdish people.
The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, and the group has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
In its decision RTÜK claimed the ad, which also contained scenes from political rallies together with the words “Voice of those who want to live together in peace in a brotherly fashion,” “served to help the propaganda of a terrorist organization.” According to RTÜK, using a little girl in the ad was meant to make the propaganda more sympathetic.
In a statement yesterday Turkey’s Ministry of Interior had claimed that TELE1 was trying to “capitalize on a tragic incident and undermine [Turkey’s] institutions and the justice system.” The statement read, “All the necessary legal proceedings will be initiated for TELE 1 and media organizations that are on the side of the terrorist organization and which publish/broadcast unethical accusations.”
RTÜK has been harshly criticized for its broadcast suspensions and fines imposed on pro-opposition TV stations.