Turkish court releases first journalist jailed under new disinformation law

A Turkish court ordered the release of a journalist who was detained under the country’s new disinformation law. Sinan Aygul became the first journalist to be jailed pending trial under the new law approved by the Turkish parliament in October 2022. Aygul, a journalist in the Bitlis province, wrote on Twitter that a 14-year-old girl had allegedly been sexually abused by the police and soldiers, but then apologised and retracted the posts because the story was not confirmed with the authorities. Nevertheless, he was prosecuted and put under arrest.

Turkish authorities argue that the disinformation law – which mandates sentences of up to three years in prison for the spread of false or misleading information – is aimed at protecting the public. Critics, however, are concerned that the law can be abused to stifle dissent.