Turkish opposition leader charged under controversial 'disinformation' law

Turkish opposition leader charged under controversial 'disinformation' law

A Turkish presidential hopeful has reportedly become the first person to be charged under the country's controversial new disinformation law.

The main opposition CHP party says that its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been indicted under the legislation.

Kılıçdaroğlu faces up to three years in prison if found guilty of "publicly disseminating misleading information".

Earlier this week, the CHP leader accused Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu of receiving "dirty money" from the sale of methamphetamine to cover the public deficit.

Soylu dismissed the allegations and accused Kılıçdaroğlu of "slander" against the Turkish state and ruling AK party.

"We won't let you off the hook. We won't let you get away with your lies. We won't let you get away with your slander," the interior minister said.

The opposition figure could now be prosecuted under the controversial Article 29 law, which was passed last month despite CHP opposition.

Journalists and NGOs say the new law on "disinformation" in Turkey is an attempt by the government to censor freedom of expression and restrict independent media.

Under Article 29, citizens can face charges if they are deemed to have intentionally spread "misleading information" that endangers "security, public order and the general health of the country".

Social networks are also forced to remove “false” content and share details about the accounts responsible for disseminating "misleading information".

Platforms already have to remove online content that's reported as offensive by individuals or the Turkish government.

Critics say the wording of the new law is ambiguous and could be used to target government opponents and reporters.

"We do not see this as a genuine attempt to tackle disinformation," a spokesperson for the NGO Article 19 told Euronews.

"In fact, it's tackling any criticism ahead of massively contested [presidential] elections in 2023."