Two Bloomberg reporters and 17 other defendants sought their acquittal on Friday in a trial in which they are charged with spreading false information about Turkey’s economy at the height of last year’s currency crisis, Reuters reported.
The case follows a criminal complaint filed in August 2018 by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) over an article by the agency about the effects of a sharp decline in the lira and how authorities and banks were responding.
The two Bloomberg reporters, who face up to five years in prison if found guilty, are being tried along with 36 other defendants including a prominent economist and journalists accused in connection with social media comments deemed critical of Turkey’s economy, according to the indictment.
On the first day of their trial, the court in Istanbul heard the defense of 19 defendants, including the two Bloomberg reporters, all of whom denied the charges.
Turkey’s lira plummeted last year on concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s influence on monetary policy and deteriorating ties between Ankara and Washington. In August 2018 it fell to its lowest on record, 7.24 against the dollar.
“As journalists we told our readers what happened that day. I’ve been a journalist for 15 years, I’ve seen many periods of crisis. This is the first time I’ve been in front of a court,” Bloomberg reporter Kerim Karakaya said in his defense.
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said the agency continued to fully support its two journalists.
“They’ve been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events,” he said. “We are committed to them and to press freedom and hope that the judiciary will do right by acquitting them.”
The judge adjourned the case until Jan. 17, 2020.