Public broadcaster TRT sacks two employees for Gezi tweets

Public broadcaster TRT sacks two employees for Gezi tweets

Public broadcaster TRT sacks two employees for Gezi tweets

People widely used social media for news about the Gezi Park protests.

Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT has dismissed two of its employees and fined another, over social media messages they sent at the height of the Gezi protests between May and June, daily Radikal has reported.

Up to 15 staff members are being investigated, mostly for tweets sent from their personal accounts in support of the Gezi demonstrations.

The contract of one of the two fired employees has been rescinded on the grounds that his personal tweets violated disciplinary regulations forbidding “ideological and politically motivated” behaviors as well as “inciting to provocation.” The second employee was sacked for sharing a post on social media judged to contain “scorning and deriding attributes targeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” the report said.

The two employees fired last month were also forced to repay their October salaries. Media unions have expressed their indignation, describing the decision as bereft of any legal and legitimate grounds.

“The TRT administration has acted as a cop, a prosecutor and a judge by illegally inspecting the social media accounts of people and ultimately punishing them. It is clear that both the protection of privacy and freedom of expression were violated here,” the Haber-Sen union said in a statement.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy parliamentary group chair Akif Hamzaçebi also voiced strong criticism, emphasizing that anyone should be able to express their opinion in privacy. 

TRT’s General Directorate denied that the 15 employees were within their rights when it announced the launch of an investigation last month.

“TRT is investigating not those who expressed an opinion, but the 15 personnel who broke the law while allegedly stating their opinion. A public employee has responsibilities determined by law,” the broadcaster had said.