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Critics of Turkey’s economy could soon face prosecution, opposition warns

By labeling those criticize the country’s economy, Turkey’s finance minister has effectively paved the way for such critics to face criminal prosecution, a member Turkey’s main opposition party has warned.

The T24 news portal reported on Friday that Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Deputy Group Chair Ozgur Ozel issued the warning after Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, speaking to the press in Ordu province on Thursday, reportedly equated those who express negative thoughts about Turkey’s economy with terrorists.

“People carrying titles like ‘economist’ and ‘professor’ who try to harm this country by painting a gloomy picture [of Turkey’s current economy] and scare people are no different than members of the groups that engage in terrorist activities,” the minister was quoted as saying.

During a press conference in Ankara on Friday, Ozel lashed out at Albayrak, who is also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, over the minister’s controversial comments regarding people who criticize the current state of Turkey’s economy.

Ozel said the minister’s remarks show that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wants everybody to speak the same way as they speak and “declare those who do not do that as terrorists.”

The CHP MP also referred to a column written by Dilek Gungor for the pro-government Sabah daily on Wednesday, where she announced that regulation about the issue is currently being prepared.

Gungor elaborated that giving misleading information through media about the current state of Turkey’s economy and the value of the Turkish lira might either result in a prison sentence between six months and two years or criminal fine.

“Berat Albayrak is laying the psychological groundwork of this regulation. … This explains the intention of the palace [Erdogan]. They would bring the regulation to the parliament soon,” Ozel noted on Friday.

He underlined that the Turkish government aims, through the expected regulation, to prevent economists in Turkey from expressing criticism of Turkey’s economy freely for fear that someone might file a criminal complaint against them.

“By way of defining this issue [of free criticism of Turkey’s economy] as terrorism and treason, Berat Albayrak discriminates and separates people,” Ozel further stated.

The lawmaker highlighted that the regulation is a way for Albayrak to have police arrest those who will talk about it “when he fails to achieve his objective regarding Turkey’s economic growth.”

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