Turkey’s president announced his approval of the new law tightening control over the Internet, bolstering embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan but deepening concerns about free speech and the rule of law.
Gül said on his Twitter account he gave his approval after the government announced it would push through parliament an amendment of the new legislation in response to the president’s concerns regarding two articles in the law.
The bill, passed by parliament this month and was approved by President Abdullah Gül late Tuesday, are seen by Erdoğan’s critics as an authoritarian response to a corruption inquiry shaking his government, a bid to stymie court cases and to stop leaks circulating online.
The new law on the judiciary will give the government more influence over the naming of judges and prosecutors, while the Internet bill will enable the authorities to block access to web pages within hours without a prior court order.
The moves by Turkey, which has been seeking membership of the European Union for decades, have raised concern in Brussels, which fears it is shifting further away from EU norms, and unnerved investors in a country whose stability over the past decade has been based on Erdoğan’s firm rule.
Police fired teargas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the Internet law in İstanbul this month, and parliamentarians debating the judicial reforms came to blows on Sunday, leaving one with a broken nose.
Erdoğan’s opponents have called on Gül, who co-founded the ruling AK Party with him in 2001 but is generally seen as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister, to use his powers to veto the bills. Speaking to reporters on a trip to Hungary late on Monday, he gave little sign he would do so.
“As the president I cannot put myself in the position of the constitutional court. But in a very general way, I can make my objections concerning the points I see,” he was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet and Habertürk newspapers.
Gül pointed out he had raised concerns about the AK Party’s first draft of the judicial reform bill, which had since been amended, and that the opposition had already indicated it would in any case appeal to the constitutional court…. see more