Investigations for coronavirus coverage on the rise

Journalists reporting on the coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the world are coming under increasing pressure. According to the International Press Institute report, six journalists from Turkey were either investigated or questioned in March due to their coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

An investigation was launched into Mesopotamia Agency correspondent Ahmet Kanbal for his report titled ‘Children testing positive quarantined in the same unit as the other children’ (‘Testleri pozitif çıkan çocuklar diğer çocuklarla aynı ünitede’). According to MA, Kanbal reported on the claim that three children who had tested positive for coronavirus were quarantined in the same unit as seven children who had tested negative in the Mardin Public Hospital, for which he was called into questioning at the Mardin Provincial Police Headquarters. It has been reported that the police officers summoning Kanbal had stated that an investigation was being launched into his coverage for ‘provoking the public to hatred and hostility’.

Ahval columnist and journalist Nurcan Baysal was called into questioning for her social media posts and her two articles published in Ahval about the coronavirus. Questioning whether the necessary coronavirus measures were taken in Diyarbakır, Baysal stated that she had been summoned to the prosecutor’s office and had been told she was being accused of ‘provoking the public to hatred and hostility’. All her police, prosecutor’s office, and court processes having been completed by noon of the same day, Baysal was released.

A journalist based in Van, Oktay Candemir was called into questioning by the Van Police Headquarters. It was stated that Candemir had been summoned due to his posts about the coronavirus and quarantining.

İz Newspaper reporter Tugay Can was called into questioning by the Cybercrimes Division of İzmir Police. The reason was reported as propagating ‘threats with the intention of causing fear and panic among the public’, citing Can’s report titled ‘Health workers tested positive in two different districts in İzmir!’ (‘İzmir’de farklı iki ilçede sağlık çalışanlarının testi pozitif çıktı!’).

The owner of the Bartın-based Halk and Pusula newspapers, Mustafa Ahmet Oktay, and the editor-in-chief of the newspapers, Eren Sarıkaya, were taken into custody by the Cybercrimes Division of the Bartın Police. Under custody as per the instructions of the prosecutor, the owner and the editor-in-chief were being accused of ‘causing panic among the public’ due to their report titled ‘A doctor tested positive in Bartın’ (‘Bartın’da bir doktorun testleri pozitif çıktı’).