Turkey launches probe into ‘fake news’ over lira rumors

Turkey launches probe into ‘fake news’ over lira rumors

ANKARA

The Chief Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul has opened an investigation into actions threatening "economic security," while Turkey’s financial watchdog launched a separate probe into what it described as “fake news” aiming to manipulate economy.

"An investigation has been launched according to Turkish Penal Law, Banking Law, Capital Markets Board regulations and related laws into people who displayed actions that threaten economic security through manipulative stories on media and operational social media accounts as part of the economic attacks that target the Republic of Turkey, its social peace, unity and economic security by the powers behind the [2016] coup attempt," the prosecutor's office said in a statement on Aug. 13, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

In a separate statement, Turkey's Interior Ministry said that "a judicial investigation has been launched into 346 social media accounts who shared posts to provoke the rise in the dollar exchange rate."

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) also launched a probe into what it described as “fake news” aiming to manipulate economy.

MASAK started an investigation into people and institutions that spread fake news, such as those claiming that ‘the state will intervene to convert foreign exchange in accounts into Turkish lira’ and ‘it will fix dollar exchange rate’ by ditching floating rate policy, which is a main pillar of the free market,” Treasure and Finance Ministry Press Undersecretary Ali Berber said in a tweet on Aug. 13.

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun described the rumors as "disinformation campaign" based on a statement by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had said on Aug. 12 that "You must know that keeping this nation on its feet is not just our duty but also the duty of industrialists and merchants. Otherwise, I will be compelled to implement Plan B or Plan C."

"This disinformation campaign is part of the economic war that has been waged against our country. At no point in his remarks did the President talk about a potential seizure of foreign currency deposits. The President's remarks reflected his administration's determination to maintain the strength of Turkey's economy and served as a warning against the potential outflow of foreign currencies," Altun said. "Provided that the President did not reveal the details of plans B and C, it is unacceptable that certain people come up with fictive scenarios in order to unsettle the people and market players."

The announcement came after Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that an action plan is coming into effect starting early Aug. 13 to support the Turkish Lira.

Albayrak also dismissed any suggestion that Turkey might intervene in dollar-denominated bank accounts, saying any seizure or conversion of those deposits into lira was out of the question, warning that "legal action will be taken against those who spread rumors and lies."

After the statement, the Turkish lira traded stronger than 6.80 to the dollar, pulling back from a fresh low of 7.24 overnight.