The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has imposed an administrative fine and a five-time broadcast ban on Habertürk TV over an opposition deputy's remarks critical of a defense industry deal Turkey struck with Qatar.
The fine concerns main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Ali Mahir Başarır's remarks on Habertürk that the Turkish military “has been sold to Qatar.”
“We are at a point where for the first in the history of the republic, the state's army has been sold to Qatar, I cannot put a value on this,” Başarır said during a program aired on Nov. 28.
Başarır was referring to a decision of the Turkish government to turn over the right to operate the country's national tank factory for a 25-year period to the Turkish-Qatari vehicle manufacturer BMC.
This industry deal marked the first time a military facility of strategic significance had been privatized.
RTÜK said in its Dec. 2 decision that Başarır's remarks were “contrary to the existence and independence of the Turkish Republic, and the indivisible integrity of the state and nation.”
Başarır's remarks came after Turkey and Qatar signed 10 new deals on Nov. 26 at a joint meeting held at the presidential palace in Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Qatar's Emir Tamim Hamad al-Thani co-chaired the meeting, which was slammed by the opposition for being held behind closed doors.
The 10 percent sale of shares of Turkey's stock exchange Borsa Istanbul topped the list of agreements made during the day. With the latest meeting, the total number of agreements between the two countries has risen to 62.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Nov. 29 launched a probe into Başarır over "humiliating the Turkish government and the army" following a series of harsh statements from government officials.