Sun, Dec 30, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Turkey probes TV anchor after protest remarks

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

A Turkish prosecutor on Friday launched an investigation into a prominent TV news presenter less than two weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted the journalist, local media reported.

The prosecutor’s office said that it was investigating Fatih Portakal of Fox Haber TV for “openly inciting others to commit a crime,” after the journalist speculated whether Turks could protest like those in the “yellow vests” movement in France, the Hurriyet and Milliyet newspapers said.

“Come on, let’s have a peaceful protest, a protest against ... rising natural gas fees. Come on, let’s do it. Would we be able to do it?” asked Portakal, who has more than 6 million followers on Twitter.

“For the love of God, tell me how many people would come out?” Portakal asked during a news program on Dec. 10 as he speculated about the consequences of Turkish people’s fears of protesting.

During anti-government protests in 2013, Erdogan was criticized for the police’s heavy-handed crackdown against demonstrators.

Portakal’s comments were interpreted by Turkish officials as a call for protests as the country is suffering high inflation.

Turkish annual consumer inflation surged to 25.2 percent in October, the highest in 15 years, before falling to 21.62 percent last month.

Portakal made the comments during a news segment about France’s “yellow vest” movement, which last month started as demonstrations against fuel price hikes, but has since snowballed into broader opposition to the government.

Erdogan has repeatedly criticized the journalist for his comments.

Two weeks ago, the president said: “He is calling people to get out on the street. Know your place! If you don’t know your place, the people will teach you a lesson.”

Earlier this week, the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council fined Fox Haber Turkey for an undisclosed amount and said that the channel had to suspend three future broadcasts of the prime time news show.

Fox Haber Turkey gives greater coverage to the opposition parties than other mainstream channels in an increasingly constricted Turkish media landscape.

Fox Haber, Turkish for “Fox News,” is not linked to the Fox News Channel in the US.

The investigation comes after two famous Turkish actors were accused of insulting Erdogan during a television program on Halk TV last week.

An Istanbul court on Monday released the two men on conditional bail after they were summoned to give statements to prosecutors.

Turkey’s allies and human rights advocates have raised concerns over a clampdown on freedom of expression under Erdogan, with dozens of journalists and civic society campaigners imprisoned.

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