April 20, 2016

Pro-gov’t daily ordered to pay compensation over ‘fabricated’ story on Erdoğan’s daughter

Staunchly pro-government Akşam daily has been ordered to pay compensation to an opposition deputy for printing “fabricated” Twitter conversations of him with a journalist which it claimed indicated a plan to “assassinate” the daughter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Prosecutors have charged two pro-government newspapers for printing “fabricated” Twitter conversations, which they said were between two opposition lawmakers and a journalist they claimed was the owner of Twitter whistleblower Fuat Avni and allegedly indicated a plan to “assassinate” the daughter of President Erdoğan, a news report said on Saturday.

The Akşam and Güneş newspapers, both owned by businessman Ethem Sancak, who has very close ties to President Erdoğan, ran front-page stories in February of last year based on alleged Twitter messages between Emre Uslu, a journalist they claimed was the infamous government whistleblower Fuat Avni, and two lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Umut Oran and Akif Hamzaçebi.

The alleged messages between Oran and Uslu discussed an assassination plot targeting Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, which had been ordered by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, according to the two dailies.

Hamzaçebi and Uslu, on the other hand, discussed collaboration between the CHP and the “parallel structure” in the run up to the June 7 parliamentary election, according to the alleged conversations.

The term parallel structure has been invented and heavily used by Erdoğan to refer to an alleged network of Gülen movement followers within the state bureaucracy, although he later expanded it to refer to the entire movement. Oran, Hamzaçebi and Uslu all dismissed the claims, and Uslu denied he is the owner of the Fuat Avni Twitter account.

Oran filed separate cases against the dailies, seeing compensation. The Ankara 12th Civil Court announced its decision on the case on Akşam and sentenced the daily to pay TL 6,000 in compensation to Oran.

Prosecutors earlier charged the two pro-government newspapers for printing the “fabricated” conversations.

Responding to a legal complaint from Oran and Hamzaçebi, Hüseyin Parlakkılıç, an İstanbul prosecutor dealing with crimes committed via media, has charged the two dailies with “successive insults and slander.” Parlakkılıç and another prosecutor, Mustafa Gökay, have brought a total of five lawsuits each for the two dailies, according to the report published on Hürriyet daily.

An 11-page indictment prepared by Parlakkılıç and sent to Bakırköy Second Criminal Court of First Instance cites an expert report which describes the alleged Twitter conversations as an “inept effort to create fake evidence.”

Oran previously disproved the false accusations after asking Twitter to send documentation of all his correspondence on the site.

Published on Turkish Minute, 20 April 2016, Wednesday