The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) on Nov. 8 voted not to annul the "disinformation law" that renders the "spread of misinformation" punishable with a 3-year jail sentence.
The court rejected the annulment application by eight members' votes against six.
The vigil in front of the court organized by various journalist bodies in Turkey was waiting for the verdict. The newly elected head of the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) Özgür Özel had also joined the vigil and expressed his wish for the law's annulment.
Özel said, “We all know this is really a censorship law,” and reminded that journalist Tolga Şardan on Nov. 1 was arrested because of this law.
"We expect it [the Constitutional Court] to protect the people’s right to obtain information,” Özel continued.
“The court’s inability to annul this law would tarnish Turkey’s reputation. No foreign investment will come nor would the confidence index would improve in a country where journalists are arrested,” Özel also said.
After the court ruling, Özel said "From now on, journalists' job will be even harder."
Journalist Tolga Şardan who was recently arrested for five days over "spread of misinformation" was also present at the vigil. "I am not the first journalist to experience this," Şardan said and expressed his wish for the AYM to annul the law.
The Press Council, the Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD), the Journalists Association, the Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS), and the Media, Communication, and Postal Employees Union (Haber Sen) have called for a vigil in front of the Turkish Constitutional Court to urge the court’s annulment of the disinformation law.
The press bodies have stated “We will not bow down to arbitrary arrests and censorship,” and claimed that the law has been used to stifle journalists who reported on corruption allegations on the government and the judiciary since its enactment in December 2022.
The CHP had carried the law to the Constitutional Court for annulment.
In December, the Turkish parliament passed the “disinformation law” that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling party said would protect the public.
The law carries a jail sentence of up to three years for anyone who spreads false or misleading information. Erdoğan's AKP and its nationalist MHP allies argue it aims to combat disinformation. However, it has been used for a further crackdown on the media.