A court in Turkey ordered the arrest of a journalist in the southeastern province of Bitlis for spreading “disinformation.” The journalist is the first person to be arrested for violating the newly passed misinformation law.
The law was passed two months ago. President Tayyip Erdogan’s party said that it would protect the public, but critics argue the government could abuse it to suppress dissent.
The journalist, Sinan Aygul, the chair of the Bitlis Journalist Association, was arrested this week for tweeting that a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a group of men, including soldiers and police officers. He later removed the story after the local governor declared the story was not true.
On Wednesday, a local court ordered his arrest pending trial, arguing that his actions could result in public panic and fear and disturb peace in the country considering his huge audience.
Aygul told the court that he corrected his mistake, deleted the tweet and that he did not intend to commit a crime. His lawyer, Diyar Orak, said the arrest was unlawful.
The law Aygul is accused of breaking carries a sentence of up to three years.