Reuters to Appeal Turkey Ban on Web Article

Reuters this week said that it will appeal a move by Turkey to block access to more than 90 web links and social media posts that used reporting by the news agency.

The ban relates to an article that said that Swedish and American anti-corruption authorities were reviewing a complaint that named the Turkish president’s son, Bilal Erdogan.

The Reuters article was translated into Turkish by several media outlets, including VOA’s Turkish Service.

An Istanbul Court on June 26 issued an order that blocks access to 93 web addresses that used the Reuters news article, its Turkish translations or information from the news agency. VOA’s Turkish Service is among those affected.

“This is the first time that access to a Reuters news article was banned within 24 hours [in Turkey],” Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber law professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, told VOA.

Reuters on Monday said it would appeal the ruling, which it said “runs contrary to Turkish legal protections for freedom of the press and expression.”

In its reporting, Reuters cited a lawyer for Bilal Erdogan as denying involvement and describing the allegations as “a web of lies.”

Reuters also noted that it could not “confirm independently whether Erdogan and his son Bilal were aware of or had involvement” in the alleged scheme.

A Reuters spokesperson told VOA that the agency stands by its story.

“Our story was prepared in keeping with the Thomson Reuters’ Trust Principles and our commitment to the publication of fair and accurate reporting in the global public interest,” the spokesperson said.


The Turkish court ruling, seen by VOA, defined the Reuters article as “far from reality, unconfirmed, and far from goodwill,” adding that citing it in other media outlets “will not justify and legitimize the content.”

The ruling said, “Freedom of the press obliges those concerned to respect professional ethics, to provide accurate and reliable information, and to act in good faith. Malicious distortions of truth may exceed the limits of acceptable criticism.”

But media critics say that the ruling goes too far.

“The court ruled that Reuters’s article should not be credited, and its coverage should not be published,” Akdeniz said.

Yusuf Kanli, the director of the E.U.-funded Media for Democracy project, said, “The Turkish Constitution clearly states that the press is free and cannot be censored.”

“Instead of banning access to the reporting of the bribery claim, the request to ban access to these allegations should be prevented,” Kanli added.

Gurkan Ozturan, the coordinator of Media Freedom Rapid Response team at the European Center for Press and Media Freedom, thinks that blocking access to articles in Turkey has become a problem.

“In recent months, there has been an apparent increase in blocking access to news articles and content removal orders targeting local media organizations. This threatens people’s right to access information and media freedom deeply,” Ozturan told VOA.

In June 2022, for example, access to VOA Turkish was blocked after it declined to get a broadcasting license from Turkey’s media regulator, the Radio and Television Supreme Council.

SEE ALSO: Turkey Blocks Access to VOA Turkish Language Content

Several Turkish authorities condemned the Reuters article and described it as disinformation.

And several pro-government media outlets under the Albayrak Media Group and TurkMedya said on social media they had ended their contract with Reuters.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency’s director of communication, on Twitter condemned Reuters for what he said is a “false news story,” which he said made “baseless claims.”

“They have once again demonstrated to the entire world just how crucial our struggle against disinformation is,” Altun said.

Last year, Turkey’s parliament adopted a law that carries prison terms of up to three years for spreading “disinformation” online.

Asli Aral of VOA’s Turkish Service contributed from Ankara to this report, which originated in VOA’s Turkish Service.

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