Dogan Akin, the editor-in-chief of online news outlet T24, faced accusations of insulting a public official for publishing an article about a tender won by the cousin of Turkey's Industry and Technology Minister.
Akin was charged with a prison sentence of 1 to 2 years for this alleged offense. During the trial hearing in Istanbul, T24's head editor was acquitted because the act he was charged with did not constitute a crime as defined by the law.
The charge against him was filed by Turkey's Industry and Technology Minister, Mustafa Varank, and was based on an article written by Ismail Ari in the newspaper BirGün, which T24 paraphrased.
Ari's piece, titled "Sea-view land seized by Varank's 'cousin'!", sheds light on Emlak Konut awarding a tender of a 180,000 square meter sea-view land in Bodrum to a company owned by Sedat Varank, the cousin of Minister Mustafa Varank.
T24 republished the article with the heading, "Revenue sharing tender worth 6.9 billion TL from Emlak Konut to Minister Varank's cousin's company"
Minister Varank first sued BirGün and then T24 in response to the news pieces.
'prevent his cousin from entering public tenders'
In his defense, Akin claimed that the subject of the accusation did not contain any insulting intent or content, "Emlak Konut opened a tender and submitted the tender to the Public Disclosure Platform. The news piece and Emlak Konut's announcement stated that the company made the highest bid on their tender and that the company it took was Sedat Varank's. If his cousin's bid from Emlak Konut damages the reputation of Minister Varank, then prevent his cousin from entering public tenders instead of blocking news. I refuse the accusations. I demand my acquittal."
However, the Industry and Technology Minister's lawyer held T24 Editor-in-Chief responsible for tarnishing its client's reputation.
"The news article that is the subject of this lawsuit has made to damage the client's reputation deliberately. The news content has offended the client's honor, dignity, and reputation," Varank's legal representative stated.
Press Freedom in Turkey
In the latest rankings by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Turkey fell 16 positions to reach 165th place out of 180 countries worldwide, with the index now classifying the country's press freedom as "very bad."
According to the BIA Media Monitoring Report for the first quarter of 2023, the government controls 80 percent of all media outlets, and some 187 online news articles and other journalistic content were blocked, while 195 journalists faced trial during this period.
Source: English Bianet