T24 webpage writer Mehmet Y. Yılmaz wrote 4 articles questioning the increments of the wealths of Binali Yıldırım, lastly AKP’s candidate for Mayor of Istanbul Municipality and AKP MP, and his children. Yıldırım had also been Key Advisor to the President, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Parliament.
Binali Yıldırım’s attorney Muhammed Gök made an official complaint about 4 articles to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on June 25th, 2019. In the complaint, it was claimed that Yılmaz had “made incorrect and insulting allegations about Yıldırım”.
An investigation was launched against Yılmaz due to the complaint.
The indictment against journalist/writer Mehmet Y. Yılmaz was prepared by Istanbul Public Prosecutor Tuncay Karcıoğlu on September 23rd, 2019. The indictment was 2 pages long. Binali Yıldırım was mentioned as “the compliant”.
Yılmaz’s articles “Mr. Binali, give me your secret, have my vote”, “I suggest a role fit for ‘his specific weight’ to Mr. Binali”, “Come on Mr. Binali, AK youth is waiting too!” and “I also thin Erdoğan would be jealous of Mr. Binali” published at T24 webpage were considered within the scope of the accusation of “insult through media”.
Yılmaz, in the articles, stated that Yıldırım had spent his life as a public worker starting from General Director of Istanbul Ferries, to MP, then to the Chairman of the Parliament and finally to the Prime Minister and asked for the source of the increment of the wealth of Yıldırım and his children.
Prosecutor, in the indictment reminded that Binali Yıldırım had served as Minister and Prime Minister and was an MP now. He claimed that the sentences used in Yılmaz’s articles “had crossed the limits of freedom of press and thought and turned into insult”
The indictment claimed that Yılmaz’s articles “had insinuated that Binali Yıldırım and his family’s wealth was gained undeservedly and corruptly”. The indictment accused the articles of being “in a nature to hurt Binali Yıldırım’s dignity, reputation and prestige and aiming to belittle Yıldırım.”
Mehmet Y. Yılmaz, in the indictment was accused of “publicly insulting a public officer for his duty in a successive manner” regulated by the articles 125 and 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to, from 1 year 5 months 15 days to 4 years 1 month of imprisonment.
His trial started with the first hearing held on January 14th, 2020 at Istanbul Anatolian 37 Criminal Court of First Instance. Yılmaz, at the first hearing, said:
“The subject matter article, was not written with a purpose to insult. Mr. Binali was nominated as a candidate for MP and Mayor of Municipalities, several times, worked as a Minister and the Chairman of the Parliament. When his wealth was discussed, he said he was transparent and he could give an account of everything. A journalist questions this, and a did what a journalist has to do. I should not be here for writing an article.”
Attorney Aslı Kazan said “If my client is asked ‘who is your source’, he might even say ‘my source is Binali Yıldırım’. Every time this question was asked, Yıldırım smiled and gave responses in an acknowledging manner. The discussion of his wealth has been ongoing for years”.
Aslı kazan, underlining that Mehmet Y. Yılmaz’s articles carry all the criteria that turns these events to news, and stated that they would like to apply ‘the right of proof’ regulated by the article 39 of the Constitution.
Judge ruled to exempt Mehmet Y. Yılmaz form the hearing, meaning he no longer was obligated to be present at the hearings.
Trial was set to continue with the second hearing on April 9, 2020. However the hearing was postponed due to the measures taken against the “corona virus” outbreak in Turkey.
The third hearing of the trial was held on July 14th, 2020. Yılmaz did not attend the hearing, and was represented by his lawyer Taylan Tanay.
The complainant Binali Yıldırım sent a petition to the court via his lawyer, stating that he withdrew his complaint and claim for compensation. In the petition, it was stated that Yıldırım withdrew his complaint “in good faith”.
Stating that Yıldırım withdrew his complaint, defense lawyer Tanay indicated, “The claimant has given up his complaint, however, the crime is actually not based on complaint. It is very natural that my client, a journalist, asked questions about the claimant’s assets since the latter was a politician who held various senior positions over the years.
The judge announced his verdict, ruling that “there was no evidence of crime”, and acquitted Yılmaz.
Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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