Journalists and trade unions in Istanbul protest law against disinformation and fake news

In Istanbul, journalists and trade unions protested the law against disinformation and fake news planned by the Turkish governing coalition. The draft was described as a new censorship law.

Journalists protested the new government “censorship law” in Istanbul. The media union Basın-İş, the journalist union TGS and the community of journalists in Turkey (TGC) as well as numerous other media professionals took part in the protest in front of the peace monument in Şişhane.

The background to the protest is the draft law introduced by the Turkish governing coalition of AKP and MHP on 27 May, which, among other things, allows a prison sentence of up to three years for the wilful dissemination of "disinformation and fake news".

Özge Yurttaş explained on behalf of the Basın-İş trade union that the planned law is directed against all media that are not following the government’s line. "It is one of the darkest laws in the history of the republic and threatens not only digital media but also ordinary citizens," said the trade unionist.

The “public interest” and “national security” arguments are used to condemn digital media users and silence those who do not support the government.

TGS chair Gökhan Durmuş recalled the arrest of 16 journalists in Amed last week and pointed out that the cameras and articles of those arrested were listed as evidence of a suspected terrorist offense. “Even before the new draft law is passed, journalism will be prevented in practice. We demand the repeal of this bill,” Durmuş said.

“Disinformation is being spread by the government itself anyway”

Uğur Güç spoke on behalf of the TGC and condemned the draft as a serious censorship law. “You can’t call it anything else. Disinformation is being spread by the government itself anyway. If we say there is inflation and gas prices are going up, we will be thrown in jail. We're not afraid of jail, we're constantly being arrested and put on trial anyway. Nevertheless, we will continue to write the truth.”

The 40-article bill vaguely defines the terms "disinformation" and "wilfulness" and can be used by the government to prosecute the publication of undesirable information at its discretion.