Two Turkish reporters of Bloomberg could receive up to five years in prison for reporting on the sharp decline in the Turkish lira in August 2018, according to a news report by Reuters on Friday.
An indictment from Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), which demands a jail sentence for two Bloomberg reporters and 36 other people, has been accepted by a criminal court in Istanbul.
According to the Reuters’ report, the indictment is in relation to a Bloomberg article dated August 2018 that is about the effects of a sharp decline in the Turkish lira and how authorities and banks were responding.
Last year, the Turkish lira shed nearly 30 percent due to worries over the Turkish central bank’s independence and the country’s tense ties with the United States, which brought about a currency crisis.
Kerim Karakaya and Fercan YalinKilic, the two Bloomberg reporters, may receive a jail sentence of between two and five years on charges of “trying to undermine Turkey’s economic stability.”
Reportedly, the indictment says that the other 36 defendants are blamed for their social media comments on the Bloomberg story or comments regarded to be critical of the Turkish economy.
The trial’s first session will be held on September 20, Bloomberg said in a report.
John Micklethwait, the Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief, said that he condemns the indictment issued against their reporters, who have reported: “fairly and accurately on newsworthy events.”
“We fully stand by them and will support them throughout this ordeal,” Micklethwait added.
Reuters stated that Turkey’s banking watchdog BDDK did not respond to requests for comment on the case.
Turkish Interior Ministry in 2018 indicated that it had tracked down 346 social media accounts that share posts about the exchange rate that it said created a negative perception of the economy.
The ministry also vowed to take legal measures against them but did not specify what these would be.
A number of people, including economists, journalists, and investors, held forth that the Turkish government, which failed to stop the rot in its economy, chose to punish those who reported on it.
“Turkish regime has always been aggressive about going after journalists, but going after a big foreign news agency is an escalation,” said Paul McNamara, a London-based investment director with GAM Investments, in a tweet on Friday.
McNamara, who specializes in emerging market bond and currency and hedge fund strategies, added: “Turkish government set fire to the economy, now seeking to imprison anyone who covered it.”
Nesrin Nas, an academic in economics and the former leader of the Motherland Party (ANAP), defined Turkey as a “dystopia” due to the situation of the Bloomberg journalists.
“Did they do this, too? That’s unbelievable. Quite a dystopia,” she tweeted, referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Those who report on the decline of the TL [Turkish lira] are guilty, those who make way for TL to decline are not guilty,” Erkin Sahinoz, a columnist for the Dunya daily, also stressed on his Twitter account.
Journalist Cuneyt Akman held forth that Kerim Karakaya was one of the most successful reporters covering finance, who also respects work ethic, that he has recently seen.
“Which political power gained anything out of judicial pressure on journalists?” he asked.
Economist Mustafa Sonmez, whose three tweets posted between August 10 and September 17 are also included in the BDDK indictment, spoke to the Independent Turkish service.
“If an economy falters due to such things [as critical news reports], shame on that economy! Therefore, the incident is extremely arbitrary and irrational. It is a deliberate move to threaten and silence those who criticize the economy, like us,” Sonmez argued.
The BDDK previously launched a probe into US-based investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. over “misguiding and manipulative” content after it advised clients to short the lira and warned about the central bank’s falling foreign currency reserves.