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Turkey bars access to news reports on AKP-era corruption documents at İstanbul Municipality

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An İstanbul court has blocked access to news reports covering the first file on alleged corruption in the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, revealed by current Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, as well as 23 criminal complaints filed by him alleging corruption, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.

The ruling to block access to a total of 297 news reports was made by the İstanbul 4th Penal Court of Peace following a petition filed by Turkey’s current Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, who is the former deputy secretary-general of the municipality and among the 23 people İmamoğlu has accused of corruption.

The court said in its ruling that access to the 297 articles was barred due to “the inclusion of statements that might lead to misunderstandings that could damage Karaismailoğlu’s reputation.”

The first corruption file disclosed by the İstanbul mayor includes a payment of TL 13.5 million ($1.6 million) to İstanbul Digital Media Commerce Inc. on April 17, 2019, just hours before he took office, reportedly because they knew İmamoğlu would halt municipal payments once he assumed control of municipal affairs.

The 23 subjects of the criminal complaints also include Abdurrahman Tığ, the owner of the media company and a failed candidate for parliament from the AKP in the June 2018 general election, and some other officials from the company.

The municipality’s inspection board said in a report that the company did not offer services in line with criteria specified in a tender and that the public suffered financial loss due to the payments made to the company.

Soon after winning office with a decisive victory in a June 24 re-run election last year, İmamoğlu hinted at corruption in the municipality committed by members of the ruling AKP and promised to hold them to account for “every kuruş [1 percent of 1 Turkish lira] coming out of people’s pockets in İstanbul.”

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