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Television station penalised after programme guest criticises government

(BIANET/IFEX) - In a programme aired on 10 November 2009 by the privately-owned TV8 television station, the independent MP from Tunceli, Kamer Genç, accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister Cemil Çiçek of corruption. The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) subsequently subjected the television station to a warning penalty. The decision was controversial within the Supreme Council. RTÜK member Mehmet Dadak opposed the decision made by the council on 28 January 2010 and referred to a dissenting opinion represented by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

"The case law of the European Court of Human Rights allows broader criticism of politicians, the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament since this should be anticipated when being in the public eye . . . In my opinion the statement was made within the scope of freedom of expression," Dadak said.

Genç was a guest on the 19 November 2009 broadcast of the "Let's talk about it" programme. The discussion programme deals with Turkish and international issues relating to politics, the economy, tabloid, sports and current affairs. The penalty was based on the following statement by Genç: "We should forget about that now. The AKP (the ruling Justice and Development Party) came into power. Tayyip Erdogan and his environment plundered the state. There is no law anymore, they abolished the judiciary. They directed the best part of the state to their own supporters. There was an incident with Cemil Çiçek at the TOKI (the Public Housing Administration) the other day. His son-in-law bought a TOKI building. A building worth TL 2 trillion, so 300 billion were given to somebody else and 1.5 trillion went to his own pocket. There are many more incidents like this. Tayyip Erdogan took $750 million from two Turkish banks and invested the money in the company of his son-in-law. They went to the Vakif Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, regarding the matter of the Light House Foundation and took out a credit worth €1.7 million. €400,000 of that money went to the brother-in-law of Erdogan's son".

Dadak, who is a lawyer, voted against the RTÜK decision and said that the host of the programme assessed Genç's statement as very pretentious and expressed his astonishment. Dadak furthermore demanded that politicians be more open to harsh criticism.

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