A Turkish journalist was arrested for publishing false news about the earthquake in Turkey. Mir Ali Koçer was about 320 kilometers from the epicenter when, on February 6, the quake rocked the Anatolian country and Syria, killing more than 50,000 people. The journalist quickly took the camera and microphone to reach the hardest hit areas. From there he told the stories of the survivors on Twitter, while he is now being investigated for “spreading false news” and faces up to three years in prison. According to reports from BBCKoçer is just one of at least four journalists who find themselves in the same situation as he was after reporting on the earthquake: Merdan Yanardag, Enver Ecifer, and Mehmet Güleş. According to the estimates of the associations that monitor freedom of the press, there will be dozens of journalists arrested on the same charges. The Turkish authorities have not yet commented on the arrest.
“We haven’t received aid for days after the earthquake.”
Some of the survivors told Kocher – who is Kurdish and also worked with opposition news websites such as statement And Duvar – They did not receive any aid for days after the earthquake. While he was in the epicenter area, the Diyarbakir police left a message on the door of the journalist – said the man – inviting him to go to the headquarters. There he was informed that he was under investigation and accused of spreading false news. The accusation is based on a law passed in Turkey last October that gives the state sweeping powers to control information and is considered an interference in freedom of expression by the Council of Europe. On a visit to the affected areas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke of the “disseminators of false news”, referring to them as “provocateurs”.
For his part, Kocher asserts that he was meticulous in his work: “I have not reported any information without careful research and analysis.” The goal of the Turkish authorities is to prevent the spread of information coming from the earthquake zone, Yaman Akdeniz, an expert on information rights at Istanbul University, explained to the British newspaper. Other analysts suggest that it would simply be a way for the Turkish government to prevent criticism of the work from spreading. An app has been launched allowing citizens to report “attempts to manipulate” and “disinformation”.
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