EU fears new anti-disinformation law in Turkey could be used to limit freedoms

The European Union on Friday expressed concern over the law passed in Turkey against disinformation that provides for penalties of up to three years in prison for the dissemination of “fake news,” saying it could limit freedom of speech and press freedoms in the country.

Speaking at a press conference from Brussels, EU Foreign Affairs spokesman Peter Stano stressed that it is “imperative” that any regulations against disinformation and interference have “clear delimitations” and respect Human Rights, as well as freedom of speech and press.

“We view with concern the ambiguous language on what constitutes false information and fear that (the law) could limit freedom of expression and the activity of independent media,” Stano has said.

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He also stressed the law’s prison sentences for disseminating disinformation, saying the EU expects Turkey to respect “the principle of proportionality” when implementing the new legislation.

For his part, Socialist MEP and European Parliament rapporteur for Turkey, Nacho Sanchez Amor, has criticized in a message on social networks that the rule goes against the opinion of the Venice Commission and the requests of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of freedom of speech and press freedoms. It bodes very badly for the imminent electoral process in the country,” Sanchez Amor said, referring to the presidential elections next June.

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Turkey’s parliament on Thursday passed a disinformation law that will punish the dissemination of “fake news” with up to three years in prison. Article 29 of the law paves the way for journalists and social media users to be sentenced to up to three years in prison for “disseminating misleading information to the public.” In the event that the perpetrator committed this offense by concealing his true identity or within the framework of the activities of an organization, the penalty in question will be increased by up to three years.

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