New banking regulations threaten press freedom in Turkey

The Turkish media have come under increasing pressure in recent years as dozens of journalists remain behind bars and the country continues to rank toward the bottom of global press freedom indexes.

Now, recently introduced banking regulations pose new threats for reporters covering economic developments in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, which media advocates say should be immediately revised to limit future prosecutions on journalists and domestic media organizations.

On May 7, Turkey’s banking regulator, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, published measures in the nation’s Official Gazette that mandated the imposition of fines for disseminating information that “would damage the financial system and lead to systemic risks due to the loss of trust in the financial system.”

The regulations would also impose fines for the creation of false or misleading impressions “regarding the supply, demand or price” of financial instruments. Though the measures are not primarily aimed at journalists, the wording could have an effect on media professionals reporting on economic trends as Turkey, like other countries, grapples with the economic shocks of the COVID-19 crisis, said Ozgur Ogret, Turkey representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“The experts we have talked to all stated that the vagueness of the text makes it potentially dangerous and I agree,” Ogret told Al-Monitor. “The regulation is one more reason for journalists to worry and maybe self-censor, if nothing else.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor.