Turkish journalists are facing jail time for critical reports on companies, according a new omnibus bill submitted to parliament by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Monday.
The proposed law, submitted to parliament last week, calls for journalists to jailed for up to three years, in addition to facing fines over reports that deliberately cause “damage the reputation, trust and wealth of the company through the media,” according to newspaper.
The AKP presented the 39-article bill, which includes a call for a corporate tax hike on financial sector companies and a reduction in the punishment for tax evasion, on Friday and it is set be debated this week, the newspaper said.
Opposition lawmaker Utku Çakırözer told Cumhuriyet that the draft bill effectively made “reporting news terror crime,” while providing “amnesty to thieves.’’
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will continue to fight against the AKP government mindset, which “arrests those writing news while releasing those who batter and attack journalists and politicians,” the CHP lawmaker said.
The Turkish government has intensified a crackdown on critical media following the failed coup attempt of July 2016. At least 180 media outlets have been shut down in Turkey and scores of journalists have been jailed on terror charges, since the failed putsch.
Turkey is among the world’s biggest jailers of journalists for the fifth year in a row, and was ranked 153 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index published in April of last year.
Turkish courts in 2021 handed down 80 years in prison to 36 journalists, according to a report announced Çakırözer in parliament in January.