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Turkey seeks jail terms for two Bloomberg reporters

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court has accepted an indictment from the country’s banking watchdog (BDDK) requesting a jail sentence for two Bloomberg reporters and 36 other people.

The indictment, seen by Reuters, was in relation to a Bloomberg story published in August 2018. The article was about the effects of a sharp decline in the Turkish lira and how authorities and banks were responding.

Worries over the Turkish central bank’s independence and the country’s tense ties with Washington sparked a currency crisis last year in which the lira shed nearly 30%.

Bloomberg reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalinkilic are accused of trying to undermine Turkey’s economic stability, charges that carry a jail sentence of between two and five years.

The other 36 defendants are accused of social media comments on the story, or comments deemed critical of Turkey’s economy, the indictment said.

The first session of the trial will be held on Sept. 20, according to Bloomberg.

“We condemn the indictment issued against our reporters, who have reported fairly and accurately on newsworthy events,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said. “We fully stand by them and will support them throughout this ordeal.”

The BDDK did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, Turkey’s interior ministry said it had identified 346 social media accounts carrying posts about the exchange rate that it said created a negative perception of the economy. It said it would take legal measures against them but did not specify what these would be.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Pravin Char)

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