Prosecutor launches probe into journalist after Erdoğan blasted him over ‘call to street’
A Turkish prosecutor has launched an investigation into journalist Fatih Portakal for “provoking people to commit a crime,” days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted the Fox TV anchor by claiming that he “invited people to the streets," like the Yellow Vests in France.
After presenting a news story about the French protests on Dec. 10, Portakal had made a comparison with Turkey. “Let’s protest the natural gas price hikes in Turkey in a peaceful demonstration. Can we do it? How many people can possibly go out to the street for a protest today?” Portakal had said on air, complaining that a “natural right could not be exercised in today’s Turkey.”
“An impertinent and impudent man calls people to the streets from television screens. The judiciary will respond accordingly,” Erdoğan had said in a political rally on Dec. 15. In another speech two days later, Erdoğan also mentioned Portakal’s name and added: “Know your limits or this nation will blow your neck.”
Portakal had later defended himself, stressing that he was not inviting anyone to the streets but only saying that the citizens are afraid of using their democratic right to protest because of the “climate of fear and intimidation.”
According to Demirören News Agency, the Bakırköy Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Dec. 28 that it launched an investigation after after 16 criminal complaints were filed against Portakal throughout Turkey.
Citing a criminal suspicion of abetting, the prosecutor also demanded the recording of Portakal’s show from the Radio and Television Supreme Council’s (RTÜK) for review.
RTÜK had earlier decided that Portakal “made a call for street protests” and ruled a three-episode ban as well as a fine on the main news bulletin on Fox TV, which amounts to 3 percent of its monthly advertising revenues.
Earlier this year, Portakal had testified in another investigation into whether he insulted Erdoğan through his tweets.
Portakal’s two tweets in January referred to actor-director Barış Atay’s theater play titled “Sadece Diktatör” (Only a Dictator), which was banned by Turkish authorities. Portakal had criticized the ban in his tweets, asking, “why does a theater play scare officials?”
In his testimony on Sept. 13, Portakal said he “had no intention of insulting Erdoğan and only used his right to freedom of expression."