ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Two Bloomberg reporters and 17 other defendants sought their acquittal on Friday in a Turkish court case in which they are charged with spreading false information about the economy at the height of last year’s currency crisis.
The case follows a criminal complaint filed in August 2018 by the BDDK banking watchdog over an article by the agency about the effects of a sharp decline in the lira and how authorities and banks were responding.
The two Bloomberg reporters, who face up to five years in jail if found guilty, are being tried alongside 36 other defendants including a prominent economist and other journalists accused in connection with social media comments deemed critical of Turkey’s economy, according to the indictment.
On the first day of their trial, the court in Istanbul heard the defense of 19 defendants, including the two Bloomberg reporters, all of whom rejected the charges.
Turkey’s lira plummeted last year on concerns over President Tayyip Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy and deteriorating ties between Ankara and Washington. In August 2018, it fell to its lowest on record to stand at 7.24 against the dollar.
"As journalists we told our readers what happened that day. I’ve been a journalist for 15 years, I’ve seen many crisis periods. This is the first time I am in front of a court,” Bloomberg reporter Kerim Karakaya said in his defense.
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said the agency continued to fully support its two journalists.
"They’ve been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events,” he said. "We are committed to them and to press freedom and hope that the judiciary will do right by acquitting them.”
The judge adjourned the case to Jan. 17, 2020.