The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has raised a parliamentary question about Today’s Zaman journalist Mahir Zeynalov’s deportation from Turkey after he shared tweets critical of the government.
In a parliamentary question submitted by CHP deputy chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu on Saturday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been asked the legal grounds of Zeynalov’s deportation and whether Erdoğan is going to deport journalists who post tweets that he dislikes.
Highlighting the outrage in both national and foreign press about Zeynalov’s deportation, Tanrıkulu asked Erdoğan if he does not share the common sense of deporting a journalist over his tweets is contradicting with the freedom of expression and thought.
Tanrıkulu listed his questions, asking PM Erdoğan how many journalists he has filed a complaint about and how many of them were found guilty or faced charges.
“Is there a deportation decision given for Mahir Zeynalov by a court? If there is no such decision, was Zeynalov deported without a court decision? Who has ordered Zeynalov’s deportation? Is it true that Zeynalov was deported over a decision by deputy chairperson of the Security General Directorate (EGM)? “ Tanrıkulu asked.
He later asked Erdoğan if Zeynalov’s deportation without a court decision was lawful and that if deputy chairperson of the EGM or Interior Minister has the right to deport a foreign journalist.
“Is it unlawful to criticize your government?” Tanrıkulu asked adding his concerns about freedom of press in Turkey and how it will effect Turkey’s EU bid.
Zeynalov, a national of Azerbaijan, has been put on a list of foreign individuals who are barred from entering Turkey under Law No. 5683, because of “posting tweets critical of high-level state officials,” Today's Zaman has learned. The decision, dated Feb. 4, was signed by Deputy Police Chief Ali Baştürk on behalf of the interior minister.
Article 19 of Law No. 5683, which covers foreigners' residence in Turkey, allows the deportation of foreigners “whose residence in Turkey is considered detrimental to public security and political and administrative requirements.”
The US-based organization Freedom House said in Twitter comments on Thursday that deporting Zeynalov is intimidation of the press. On Monday, Freedom House also released a report titled “Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media and Power in Turkey,” roundly criticizing the Turkish government's attitude toward the media.