Turkish prosecutors investigate news anchor targeted by Erdoğan

Turkish prosecutors in Istanbul have started investigating Fox TV news anchor Fatih Portakal for inciting criminal activity after he questioned the ability of the Turkish people to protest freely, Sözcü newspaper reported.

Portakal had been targeted by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the past two weeks for saying on television that the Turkish people were afraid to take part in peaceful demonstrations. He also criticised Ankara’s response to the ongoing yellow vest protests in France as hypocritical.

“Do you think we can do it? How many people will be able to take to the streets without fear?” Portakal said on Turkey’s Fox TV. “For the sake of God, can you tell me how many people would demonstrate? They are trying to discourage social opposition and keep it under pressure. It is a most natural right, but it cannot be exercised. Whether it’s France or Turkey, it doesn’t really matter all that much,‘’ 

In a statement on Dec. 17, Erdoğan said that Portakal was inciting protests in Turkey. “Some person is out calling people onto the streets. Know your place and if you don’t know your place, then the people of this country will,” he said.

Osmanlı Ocakları, a nationalist religious group that supports Erdoğan, held demonstrations against Portakal in front of Fox TV’s headquarters in Istanbul on Thursday. No one was apprehended by police.

“You should know that 52 percent of people in this country are waiting at home and gritting their teeth,” the group said in a statement. 

In a decision this week, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s national broadcast regulator, imposed a three-day suspension on Fox TV’s Prime News Bulletin, which is presented by Portakal.

Prosecutors on Friday asked Fox TV to provide recordings of the news bulletin and said that they had compiled 16 different complaints against Portakal filed in various cities in Turkey.