A prosecutor has filed charges against a director of Samanyolu TV accusing him of “insulting” and “slandering” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and fomenting “grudges and hostility among the public,” demanding up to 11 years and two months in prison.Chief Public Prosecutor Sıddık İlgar demands between two years and 10 months to 11 years and two months in prison for Abdullah Bağ, who is the director responsible for the content of the broadcasts of Samanyolu TV, which has currently been under attack from government agencies.
Samanyolu TV and Samanyolu News have jointly been fined TL 1,322,492 in total for 55 administrative fines issued by the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK). Prime Minister Erdoğan, whose government faces graft charges, has said an investigation into his inner circle over alleged graft is a plot against his government, claiming that the Hizmet movement -- a social movement that has also inspired Samanyolu TV -- is behind the plot, although he has failed to produce any evidence in this regard.
Prosecutor İlgar recently completed an investigation following a petition filed by Prime Minister Erdoğan as plaintiff. In the indictment, which has been accepted by the 9th Criminal Court of First Instance, it is alleged that Samanyolu TV distorted an election campaign speech delivered by Erdoğan on March 4.
The indictment also claims that “an illegal structure nested within the state,” as prime minister Erdoğan has suggested, is trying to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. The indictment claims that on March 4, Erdoğan, speaking at an election rally, called on his supporters to curtly turn them down if Hizmet movement members visit their homes speaking against the AK Party.
The indictment claimed that Samanyolu TV's broadcast had spliced Erdoğan's speech to make it appear as if the prime minister hates anyone who is a member of the Hizmet movement, although the prime minister has made it clear that he differentiates between the grassroots of the movement and those at the top. According to the prosecutor, the news clip was a distortion of Erdoğan's speech and has slandered Erdoğan and defamed his “honor and reputation.”
The Turkish press has been categorized as “not free” by the international group Freedom House. On Wednesday, Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, said freedom of expression is severely limited in Turkey while media freedom has become critically stifled.
She told Today's Zaman: “What I find alarming is that the latest developments in Turkey point toward more restrictions instead of a gradual progress toward increased media freedom.”
Recently Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu threatened Zaman diplomacy correspondent Servet Yanatma, who asked the foreign minister if it was normal for a prime minister to appoint newspaper editors, edit news reports or threaten a media owner, describing his question as an "insult to the prime minister" and stating that Turkey has press freedom "if you can safely go home after this press conference."
Recordings of wiretapped conversations between Prime Minister Erdoğan and some media bosses, leaked in March online, resulting in a ban on Twitter and YouTube, have suggested that many journalists in the mainstream media who have been fired were sacked under orders from Erdoğan over columns or stories that go against the government's ideas.
Published on Today's Zaman, 05 June 2014, Thursday