A criminal complaint was filed in 2017 against Pelin Ünker, for her Paradise Papers-related news stories published in Cumhuriyet newspaper, by the then-Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak -who is also the son-in-law of President Tayyip Erdoğan-, Albayrak’s elder brother Serhat Albayrak and Berat Albayrak’s former colleague Çalık Holding Chairman Ahmet Çalık, on allegations of “insult” and “slander”.
The court ordered an access ban to the online version of the news story in question published on the website of Cumhuriyet newspaper. In her first defense, Ünker stated that she aimed to inform the public by examining the documents known as Paradise Papers. She said that her news story did not contain any criminal element and requested a verdict of non-prosecution.
In line with her request, the court ruled for non-prosecution on January 3, 2018. In its ruling, the court stated that “There was no instance of insult, and the article falls completely within the limits of the freeodm of expression”. As for the slander allegations, the court indicated that “Apart from reporting purposes, there was no action tantamount to slander, which would require the public authority to bring legal sanction or initiate an investigation, there was no illicit action corresponding to the crime of slander”.
However the complainants appealed against this ruling, and the appeal was accepted.
A new indictment was accepted on February 22, 2018, which accused Ünker not of insult but “slander via the media” and requested her to be sentenced.