While the Turkish lira loses value against the U.S. dollar, Turkey’s Interior Ministry made an announcement that an investigation has been launched into 346 social media accounts who shared posts to ‘’provoke the rise in the dollar exchange rate’’ since last week.
In a tweet posted after Turkey’s lira began to crash last week, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun described the social media posts as a "disinformation campaign’’ he said was “part of the economic war that has been waged against our country.’’
Turkey’s Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) launched a probe into what it described as ‘’fake news’’ aiming to manipulate the economy.
The crackdown was launched as Turkey faced its most serious economic issue in decades, with losses to the lira reaching around 15 percent last Friday alone.
“We are concerned that these announcements mean there could be a new witch hunt against the few critical voices still left in Turkey,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu said in a statement published by the Paris-based journalists' advocacy non-profit organisation.
“Turkey would not be where it is now if the rule of law had not been eliminated . Reestablishing it would help restore confidence more effectively than designating new scapegoats,” Önderoğlu continued, reiterating the country’s need for independent journalists.
The RSF representative’s comments follow a dark period for Turkish journalists, many of whom face political charges that could see them serving life sentences. Others who express critical views are summarily sacked by employers in a sector dominated by pro-government outlets.
Most recently, Fox TV dismissed its Ankara bureau chief Sedat Bozkurt on August 10. Meanwhile. the pro-government Sabah newspaper described the Fox TV channel, a US-Turkish joint venture, as “the media arm of the US terrorist attack” on the Turkish economy.
Since the failed July 2016 coup attempt, around 150 media outlets have been closed, and critical journalists tried en masse. The country now holds the world record for the number of professional journalists detained, according to RSF. *