Türkiye: RSF decries draft amendment on “agents of influence” that threatens independent journalism

RSF dénonce un projet d’amendement sur les “agents d’influence” qui menace le journalisme indépendant.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Turkish government to abandon proposed amendment on “agents of influence” under which journalists working for internationally funded media could potentially be jailed. Such legislation would endanger independent journalism, RSF says.

The controversial legislative amendment on “agents of influence” – an amendment liable to threaten journalistic independence and freedom of expression – is being prepared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for submission to the national assembly. 

According to the ANKA news agency, a proposed addition to article 339 of Türkiye’s Penal Code would read: “Research going against the security of the state or its internal or external political interests and relating to Turkish citizens, institutions or organisations or foreigners living in Turkey and responding to the strategic interests or instructions of a foreign state or organisation is punishable by a sentence of three to seven years in prison.”

“In view of the oppressive judicial practices that are now well known in Türkiye, we fear that any journalist working for a media outlet that relies on international funding would be threatened with imprisonment under this proposed Penal Code amendment, which unfortunately has no safeguards to prevent judicial abuses. If Parliament adopts this broadly and vaguely worded legislation, any journalist who annoys the government could easily be targeted as an agent of influence who supposedly supported the positions or interests of a foreign country.”

Erol Onderoglu

RSF’s special representative in Türkiye

The proposed legislation would enable the Erdogan government to not only continue undermining free speech and press freedom within Türkiye but also beyond its borders as the amendment also covers Turkish citizens, institutions and organisations located in a foreign country. 

Following the use of “disinformation” legislation against some 30 journalists in the past 18 months, the possibility of now also using “agent of influence” as a catch-all charge is liable to further undermine journalistic freedom, pluralism and independence in Türkiye.

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