Turkey: Main opposition leader targeted with the new censorship law

Turkey: Main opposition leader targeted with the new censorship law
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Police in Turkey laid charges on CHP Chair Kemal Kilicdaroglu based on the new law after the opposition leader accused the interior minister of cooperating with the drug lords

Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has become the subject of the newly passed “disinformation law” after his remarks about drug lords operating in Turkey, his lawyer said, referring to an indictment request by the police that claims the CHP (Republican People’s Republican Party) “publicly spread misleading information.” 

On October 13, “the  censorship law” as known by the critics was passed by Turkey's parliament bringing up to three years of jail sentence to journalists and social media users for spreading “false information", despite deep concerns over free speech by  the opposition parties and press groups.

After Kilicdaroglu claimed on Sunday that the government allowed, even invited the drug lords to operate in Turkey turning the country into a conflict zone in a video post on Twitter, general directorate of security affairs made a denunciation in the prosecutor’s office on charges that were based on the new law. 

“This was an attempt to create the perception that our agency was acting together with certain organized crime groups, not in accordance with the law, and this attempt tried to damage the reputation of our Police Department and our Minister of Interior in the eyes of the society,” the denunciation file read. 

Earlier, CHP Vice President Oguz Kaan Salici said the party did not blame the institutions but the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu personally. 

Kilicdaroglu’s lawyer Celal Celik said the move by the police proved that the opposition was right when they said the law was prepared to oppress the critics. 

“Such politicization of institutions is unprecedented in history. The audacity they have to complain about political considerations reveals their abuse of power,” Celik said, referring to the police. 

The issue of media freedom is of growing significance ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, with surveys showing support for Erdogan and his AKP (Justice and Development Party) tumbling since the last vote.

The Venice Commission, which advises the rights watchdog Council of Europe, said it is particularly concerned about consequences of the law's prison provision, "namely the chilling effect and increased self-censorship" ahead of the vote.