A Turkish court on Tuesday blocked access to 26 websites and URLs, including news websites, blogs and social media accounts, for reporting on the recent sentencing of a Deutsche Welle journalist, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkish account reported.
The German broadcaster on Saturday said an İstanbul court handed down a suspended sentence to journalist Bülent Mumay, the coordinator of its İstanbul office, for “spreading personal data” about a construction company, defying a court order.
Mumay reportedly shared information about construction company Met-Gun İnşaat’s links to the İstanbul metropolitan municipality’s default on a contract for subway construction, which the company had sought to keep secret, on his Twitter account in 2020 in violation of a court order.
DW is appealing the verdict.
According to RSF, the İstanbul 9th Criminal Court of Peace imposed access restrictions on 26 URLs and websites, including RSF Turkish, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), DW Turkish, Diken, Kısa Dalga, T24 and Bianet, after they reported on the sentence handed down to Mumay.
İstanbul 9. Sulh Ceza Hakimliği, RSF Türkçe ve MLSA ile haber sitelerinde çıkan 26 online içeriğe erişim yasağı getirdi. Karar Met-Gün İnşaat Şirketi’nin açtığı davada gazeteci @bulentmumay'a “kişisel verileri yaymak”tan ceza verilmesini duyurulması veya kınanması üzerine alındı. pic.twitter.com/9ovBdXnyjA
— RSF Türkçe (@RSF_tr) May 9, 2023
Turkish authorities have in the last few years cracked down on websites, social media accounts and posts covering news stories critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but this has led to accusations that freedom of expression has been curtailed.
Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, closing down media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Erdoğan survived a coup in July 2016.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 90 percent of the national media in Turkey, which was ranked 165th among 180 countries in the RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index, is owned by pro-government businessmen and toe the official line.