Turkey warns online criticism may be viewed as 'economic attacks'
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Turkey warns online criticism may be viewed as 'economic attacks'

Washington: Turkey signalled a clampdown on news and social media, with officials including the public prosecutor warning that criticism may be viewed as "economic attacks" on the country.

Authorities have begun investigating people who "carry out actions threatening security" as well as news reports and social media posts that would "serve as economic attacks," the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Monday, citing a statement by the Istanbul prosecutor's office.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Credit:AP

It tied the news reports to "forces behind the July 15 coup attempt," referring to a 2016 failed putsch that Turkey blames on a US-based Islamic cleric.

Turkey's lira has lost about a quarter of its value against the dollar since the US sanctioned two ministers in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in a spat over the continued detention of an American pastor, pushing the Middle East's largest economy into a currency crisis. The Central Bank announced measures on Monday morning to bolster the ailing lira, pumping cash into the market to stop its slide.

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The Ankara-based capital markets regulator also issued a warning against "misleading news" that impacts investor decisions, saying those who are found to be culprits could face fines and prison sentences of up to five years. The banking watchdog published a similar statement over the weekend, warning about false reporting on banks.

Turkey's financial crimes investigation board, or Masak, has begun a probe into "those who write manipulative stories on the economy," Haberturk reported, without saying where it got the information. The Interior Ministry has started investigations into 346 social media accounts that "have postings provoking the dollar exchange rate to rise," Anadolu tweeted, citing an interior ministry statement. The Ankara prosecutor's also started a similar investigation.

Turkey has previously cracked down on comments, including those by market analysts and brokers, criticizing the government and the economy.

Washington Post