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Don't read too much into Turkey's gag order reversal, warn free press advocates

Turkey’s highest court has struck down a reporting ban surrounding a 2013 corruption probe, but some human rights defenders warn the win for press freedom may prove minor.
Supporters of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) hold a banner with pictures of four former ministers while shouting anti-government slogans during a protest in Ankara December 17, 2014. Main opposition CHP held an anti-government protest in Ankara on the first anniversary of the corruption probe, which became public with police raids on Dec. 17 last year, leading to the resignation of three ministers and prompted Erdogan to purge the state apparatus, reassigning thousands of police and hundred

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled unanimously that a reporting ban slapped on the work of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate corruption charges leveled against four former ministers in a quashed 2013 probe violated free expression and press freedom.

The court was responding to a complaint filed by opposition broadcaster Halk TV, which aired coverage of the corruption scandal implicating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then the prime minister, and his inner circle. In its ruling, the court suggested that the lower court had exceeded its jurisdiction when imposing the ban implemented supposedly to protect the reputations of the individuals being probed. The news blackout followed a petition filed in 2014 by the parliamentary commission itself. The government went into high gear to muzzle all reporting on the graft probe and fired and jailed the officers conducting it.

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