Turkish journalists arrested for earthquake coverage

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Mir Ali Kocer
NOS News

At least four Turkish journalists have recently been arrested and questioned for reporting on the country’s earthquakes. The BBC spoke to one of the detained journalists.

The freelancer Mir Ali Koçer posted stories from survivors and rescuers on Twitter. He recently had to report to the police station on suspicion of spreading “fake news”. He faces a three-year prison sentence.

According to him, he just wanted to speak to people affected by the earthquake who complained that they did not receive help for days. The journalist says he wanted to highlight both sides: from survivors to the police. “I didn’t share information without a thorough investigation,” he says.

Disinformation Act

However, he was notified that the police were looking for him. He is charged under a disinformation law introduced in October. Since then, spreading disinformation has been a criminal offense and the government has more powers to control news sites and social media. According to President Erdogan, such a law is necessary to protect the population.

Koçer says at least three other journalists are under investigation for reporting or commenting on the earthquake. Press freedom organizations say dozens more have been detained, harassed or banned from publishing.

Reporters Without Borders calls the investigation into Koçer absurd. The Turkish authorities have not responded to questions from the BBC.

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