Journalist reporting from earthquake zone arrested in Ankara

Journalist reporting from earthquake zone arrested in Ankara
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Journalist Firat Bulut was arrested on his return to Esenboga Airport in the Turkish capital Ankara after weeks of reporting from the earthquake zone

Firat Bulut, a journalist who had published many reports on the Feb. 6 earthquake in Turkey, was arrested Thursday evening at Esenboga Airport as he returned to the Turkish capital, Ankara.

The journalist was charged by the state courts with "false accusations and lies" in reporting on the earthquake and its aftermath.

Bulut announced the incident on his Twitter account, saying that the Bingol Peace Court had opened an investigation against him for "spreading fake news"

"I have reported from the earthquake zone for the last month. They were not there, and now they want to silence me with this investigation," he said, adding the hashtag #GazetecilikSucDegildir, which means "journalism is not a crime" in Turkish.

On Thursday, Turkey's General Directorate of Security said it had identified 1139 people accused of making"provocative posts," and legal action had been taken against 651. Of this group, 157 people were taken into custody and 29 were jailed pending trial.

Last October, the Turkish parliament passed a law that allows journalists and social media users to be punished by up to three years in prison for spreading "disinformation," raising concerns about freedom of expression among human rights groups and European countries, especially ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due this summer.