Bloomberg reporters may face jail term in Turkey

Journalists arrested in Myanmar
Journalists arrested (Representational picture) Reuters

Turkish court may send two Bloomberg reporters and 36 other people behind the bars after it accepted a request to review the complaint filed by country's banking watchdog (BDDK).

As per Reuters, the indictment was in relation to a Bloomberg article, which was published in 2018 August that included the effects of a visible decline in the Turkish lira, as well as how authorities and banks were responding.

Worries about the Turkish central bank's independence and Turkey's tense ties with Washington sparked a currency crisis last year in which the lira shed nearly 30%.

Two Bloomberg reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalinkilic are accused of trying to undermine Turkey's economic stability. As per the legal charges, they would face a jail sentence of between two and five years.

The other 36 defendants are accused in connection with social media comments on the story, or comments deemed critical of Turkey's economy, the indictment said.

The BDDK, Turkey's banking regulator, issued a statement on Friday evening saying that it had filed a criminal complaint to the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office on Aug. 14 last year regarding the story and three Bloomberg journalists.

"The necessary legal avenues will be resorted to in the future concerning similar publications that could damage the prestige of our banks and our economy or harm our sector," it added.

In a separate statement, Turkey's securities markets regulator, the Capital Markets Board, said it had filed a criminal complaint to Istanbul prosecutors regarding the social media posts of some individuals.

The board did not name the individuals or specify how many it was complaining about.

It said they had sought to create tension in markets and cause harm to investors.

The first session of the trial will be held on Sept. 20, according to Bloomberg.

"We condemn the indictment issued against our reporters, who have reported fairly and accurately on newsworthy events," Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said. "We fully stand by them and will support them throughout this ordeal."

Last year, Turkey's Interior Ministry said it had identified 346 social media accounts carrying posts about the exchange rate that it said created a negative perception of the economy. It said it would take legal measures against them but did not specify what these would be.