Turkey’s first lady, Emine Erdoğan, filed a criminal complaint against Gökay Başcan, editor of the BirGün daily, for publishing a story covering a ban on reports on the Turkish Environment Agency (TÜÇA), which was established in 2020 under her auspices, Birgün reported.
Başcan was accused of insulting Emine Erdoğan, and the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office decided there were legal grounds to launch a case. The indictment against Başcan was accepted by the İstanbul 17th Criminal Court of First Instance.
The 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 the provision of buoys for all Turkish coasts to TÜÇA, which has links to Emine Erdoğan.
The access ban was imposed on a number of news pieces, including one written by Başcan, according to Turkish media reports.
Over another 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 the comments of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba that are critical of the 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.