Prosecutors have launched an investigation to determine whether popular Fox TV anchorman Fatih Portakal was guilty inciting of inciting people to commit crimes.
Portakal, who has already incurred the wrath of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an election rally, is in hot water over comments he made on his show on December 10 criticizing natural gas hikes.
The AK Party regime of Erdogan has already moved against Portakal’s station for his comments, fining it one million lira ($190,000) – the equivalent of three percent of its November advertising revenue. Additionally the station was ordered to stop broadcasting for three days by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), the Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts.
During the December 10 broadcast Portakal said: “Let’s try if we can peacefully protest against the rising prices, take say natural gas prices. Let’s do it. Can we? How many would dare taking to the streets without fear and anxiety? How many would? “
“Tell me for god’s sake! They are trying to intimidate and subdue the individual and collective opposition. France or Turkey, it doesn’t matter, it is the most natural right but it cannot be exercised,” he said, alluding to the yellow vest protests that were taking place in France at the time.
That provoked an immediate response from Erdogan, who at an election rally in the central city of Konya said: “Someone (Fatih Portakal) is an orange, tangerine or citrus (Portakal means Orange in Turkish) is also calling citizens to the street. This shameless person must know his place. If he does not know his limit, this nation will blow him up.”
Portakal, who has six million twitter followers, replied with a tweet, saying that: “Should have said something to the one (Erdogan) who said ‘they should be decapitated.’ Everything aside, he shouldn’t have let them off the hook with just labelling them him/them as ‘immoral and dirty’.”
“Başları kesilmelidir,” diyene de bir iki laf edilseydi keşke. Her şey bir tarafa,“edepsiz ve ahlaksız” demeseydi iyiydi.
— fatih portakal (@fatihportakal) December 16, 2018
It was not long after this that Erdogan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın filed an appeal to RTUK demanding that Halk TV be sanctioned over comments that popular actors Müjdat Gezen and Metin Akpınar made criticizing Erdogan on the show Public Arena.
Both Halk TV and Fox TV were censured and the two actors were briefly detained.
An other journalist, Mine Kirikkanat also under investigation
Mine Kirikkanat also, a columnist for Cumhuriyet daily, also faces an investigation for critical comments she made on the same edition Public Arena in which Gezen and Akpinar, made their comments, which were deemed as insults and a call for a military coup.
Turkey remains the world’s worst offender against press freedom, according to the annual study of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), with at least 68 journalists imprisoned for terrorism charges.