Turkish prosecutors have launched investigations into two journalists due to their critical coverage of the government’s response to two powerful earthquakes that claimed thousands of lives in the country, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Journalists Merdan Yanardağ and Enver Aysever are facing the investigations, launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on allegations of fomenting enmity and hatred among the people.
Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years struck near the city of Gaziantep, which is home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria, on Monday, killing more than 5,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria.
The 7.8-magnitude quake, which struck as people were still sleeping, was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude tremor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue work on the same day.
Yanardağ, the editor-in-chief of the Tele1 TV station, is under investigation due to remarks made on his TV program, while Aysever, who runs his own YouTube channel, faces the probe due to his social media posts about the earthquake.
Both journalists have criticized the government for its poor response to the disaster as thousands of people are feared to be under the rubble waiting to be rescued.
Government officials reject the criticism, saying everything is under control and that the necessary action is being taken to rescue the survivors and provide other victims with basic necessities.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Tuesday announced a state of emergency for the 10 provinces affected by the quake, said he was “keeping note of all the lies and distortions and will open his notebook when the time comes.”
Erdoğan’s remarks have been interpreted by many as an attempt to silence criticism of his government due to what they say is its poor response to the disaster.