Journalist sentenced to more than a year jail term over Turkey’s Paradise Papers

Turkish journalist Pelin Ünker of Cumhuriyet Daily is sentenced to 1 year 1 month and 15 days jail term with a fine of 8 thousand 660 Turkish Lira ($1575) for her news pieces of “Paradise Papers” about Parliament Speaker Binali Yıldırım, and his sons.

Istanbul 2nd criminal court of general sessions’ verdict announced on Monday’s trial of a defamation case filed against Unker with the accusations of “attacking personal rights” by Speaker Yıldırım and his sons.

Paradise Papers of Turkey

Turkey’s former prime minister Binali Yildirim and his two sons filed lawsuits against Ünker and Cumhuriyet for “an attack on his personal rights.” for the “Paradise Papers” news series published on Cumhuriyet in November 2017.

Cumhuriyet reported on five offshore companies in Malta of which the Yildirim brothers, Erkam and Bulent, were shareholders.

The companies owned shipping vessels, according to Cumhuriyet. Erkam was the director of two companies, Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd. and Black Eagle Marina Co. Ltd.

Cumhuriyet reported that public records showed one offshore company shared an address with a Turkish business that won a $7 million research and shipping-related tender from the Turkish government.

The Turkish company’s owner was Binali Yildirim’s business partner before Yildirim entered politics, Cumhuriyet reported.

The Yildirim family did not respond to Cumhuriyet’s questions before publication.

After publication, Prime Minister Yildirim defended the offshore companies as routine parts of the global maritime industry. “There is no hidden business here,” he said.

Along with Yıldırım and his sons, President Erdogan’s son-in-law and Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, his brother and other family members also filed defamation actions against Pelin Ünker and Cumhuriyet Daily.

None of these influential figures claimed factual errors or inaccuracies but sought financial penalties for alleged damage to their reputations.

Pelin Ünker is a member of Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Turkey’s former prime minister and parliamentary speaker Binali Yildirim announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for Istanbul just days ago.

Erdogan, who last July awarded Yildirim the State Medal of Honour, praised Yildirim as being his trustworthy companion for the past 40 years.

An arrest warrant followed a supervised release verdict for Turkish opposition former MP Eren Erdem

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