A Turkish court has imposed a travel ban on two journalists as part of a case launched over a complaint filed against them by İrfan Fidan, a judge serving on the Constitutional Court, local media reported on Thursday.
Fidan, who is known for his steadfast support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in politically charged, controversial cases and investigations during his time as a prosecutor, was appointed to serve on the top court in 2021.
As a prosecutor, Fidan had once famously connected Turkey’s July 2016 military coup attempt to the Crusader invasion of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages while interrogating a suspected coup plotter.
The ban imposed on Broadcasting and Printer Workers Union (DİSK BASIN-İŞ) President Faruk Eren and Furkan Karabay, an editor at the Gerçek Gündem news website, was announced by the union on social media.
GAZETECİLERE UYGULANAN ‘TEDBİR’ DEĞİL, ‘TEHDİT’TİR! pic.twitter.com/7n0CKal5wf
— DİSK Basın-İş (@Disk_Basin_is) September 7, 2023
They stated that the ban was not a “precaution” but a “threat” against the journalists.
“You cannot make journalists guilty of a crime for journalism. You cannot silence the voices of journalists who are the voice of the people,” the union said.
The case against the journalists was launched upon a complaint from Judge Fidan regarding a news article published on Gerçek Gündem.
It is common for journalists in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, to face threats, physical attacks and legal harassment due to their work.
Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed 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.