Turkey: opposition asks to suspend disinformation law

ANKARA, Turkey (HPD) — Turkey’s main opposition party appealed to the supreme court Tuesday to suspend enforcement of a new press law that punishes people convicted of spreading “disinformation” with prison terms.

Last week, Parliament passed a 40-article law amending press and social media laws for the express purpose of combating fake news. Critics fear the move will be used to further crack down on social media and the independent press as elections near.

The law, approved with the votes of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party and his nationalist allies.

The most controversial provision, Article 29, provides for up to three years in prison for disseminating information “contrary to the truth” about internal and external security, public order and health, with the alleged purpose of generating “concern, fear and panic in the public.

Engin Altay, leader of the Republican People’s Party, appealed to the Constitutional Court to suspend the application of Article 29.

“This is a law that (intends) to present the lies (of the government) as if they were the truth and the truth as lies, and it cannot be accepted,” Altay said after filing the appeal.

The party will request the annulment of the entire rule later, he said.

Erdogan argued that fake news and the rise of “digital fascism” threaten national and global security. His Justice and Development Party and nationalist allies say disinformation prevents people from accessing the truth, undermining freedom of expression.

The ruling party denies that the law seeks to gag critics.

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