October 27, 2014

Pro-government media allowed to lie, ignores compensation penalties

Media outlets within the government's sphere of influence have ignored court orders for them to publish retractions of fabricated stories, especially about the Hizmet movement after the corruption scandals that were made public on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25.

Media outlets like Sabah, Yeni Akit, Yeni Şafak and Takvim are among other news organizations with close affiliations with the government that have shrugged off over 30 judgments about publishing corrections of stories that contain slanderous remarks about Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose teachings inspired the Hizmet movement.

Hizmet is a voluntary movement that spreads ideas of interfaith dialogue and the significance of education in combatting global poverty and ignorance.

According to the law, media organizations must publish statements that refute the previously published stories if ordered to do so by a court ruling. These refutations must be on the same page, with the same size and font as the original story. If they fail to do so, they can be fined somewhere between TL 50,000 and 150,000 depending on the severity and reach of the story and the type of publication. The money collected from papers that fail to publish official denials goes to the Treasury as revenue.

For every unpublished refutation of a story about the Hizmet movement Gülen's lawyers have initiated legal proceedings.

Gülen's lawyers have won more than 100 lawsuits about stories that aimed to defame their client with assertions like attempting a coup d'etat, managing a terrorist organization, etc. Legally wiretapped tape recordings, which were made public in the corruption files, revealed that some newspapers follow direct orders from the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Now it appears that they are either not heeding these court orders or publishing the refutations in small font in obscure parts of the papers, even if the original articles were front page headline news.

Published on Cihan, 27 October 2014, Monday