Trial starts of Bloomberg reporters accused of spreading false information at height of Turkey’s currency crisis

By bne IntelliNews September 20, 2019

Two Bloomberg reporters and 17 other defendants on September 20 sought their acquittal in Turkey on charges that they spread false information about the economy at the height of last year's Turkish lira crisis.

A criminal complaint was filed in August 2018 by the BDDK banking watchdog after the news agency published an article on the impact of a sharp decline in the lira and how authorities and banks were responding.

The two Bloomberg reporters face up to five years in jail if found guilty. They are being tried alongside 36 other defendants including a prominent economist and other journalists accused in connection with social media comments interpreted as critical of Turkey's economy, according to the indictment.

On the first day of their trial, an Istanbul court heard the defence of 19 defendants, including the two Bloomberg reporters.

The Turkish lira (TRY) collapsed during the summer of 2018 as markets reacted to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's influence on monetary policy and a multi-faceted deterioration of ties between Ankara and Washington. In August last year, it fell to its lowest on record when it weakened as far as 7.24 against the dollar.

"As journalists we told our readers what happened that day. I've been a journalist for 15 years, I've seen many crisis periods. This is the first time I am in front of a court," Bloomberg reporter Kerim Karakaya said in his defence, Reuters reported.

Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said the agency continued to fully support its two journalists.

"They've been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events," he said. "We are committed to them and to press freedom and hope that the judiciary will do right by acquitting them."

The judge adjourned the case to January 17, 2020.

Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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