Turkish pro-gov’t media tycoon presses charges against journalist over article

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Serhat Albayrak is also brother of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, Berat Albayak.

Serhat Albayrak, vice chairman of the board of directors at the pro-government Turkuvaz media group, has filed a lawsuit against government-critical journalist and academic Ceren Sözeri over an article, demanding TL 200,000 ($35,000) in damages.

The lawsuit was announced on the Turkish Twitter page of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The case is to be heard by a commercial court, which means Albayrak claims to have sustained business losses as a result of the article. The first hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2020.

The article, published by the Evrensel daily on April 7, was an analysis of the March 31 local elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was dealt unexpected blows, particularly in the major city of İstanbul and the capital, Ankara.

While the piece was mainly a criticism of the state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), it also mentioned the Sabah newspaper and ATV, owned by Albayrak’s pro-AKP Turkuvaz, accusing the outlets of provoking hatred and spreading disinformation on the night of the elections.

“Albayrak would not bother to discuss the issue on the grounds of free speech. Instead, he sued for damages. Two sentences I wrote damaged him, apparently,” Sözeri tweeted in reaction.

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