İYİ Party member detained by Turkish police for tweet claiming Halkbank to be fined by US

An İstanbul court has ruled for the pretrial detention of Kerim Yılmaz, a High Advisory Board member of the İYİ Party, over a tweet claiming that Halkbank would receive a significant fine for its involvement in a scheme to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Halkbank official Mehmet Hakan Atilla was recently convicted of violating US sanctions on Iran and sentenced to 32 months in prison.

A prosecutor recently launched an investigation into Twitter accounts over Halkbank’s complaint alleging that people who circulated rumors about a fine had damaged the reputation of the bank.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek also weighed in on the issue. “The news implying that Halkbank will receive a fine of some $49 billion is false,” Şimşek said on an NTV broadcast on May 25.

Yılmaz was among a number of people who were briefly detained, according to the Doğan news agency. He was put in pretrial detention under Article 5411 of the Banking Law, which stipulates that damaging the reputation of a bank is a crime.

An Ankara court has also forbidden reporting on a statement by an opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy on alleged corruption by the relative of a former high-ranking government official, the left-wing Sendika.org news website reported.

CHP deputy Atilla Sertel asked why the terms of a tender won by a government body and then subcontracted to a private company, Niti, had later been changed significantly in the latter’s favour. He said the son of Mehmet Görmez, the former head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Burak Görmez had represented Niti in the matter.

Sertel said the Turkish Post Office (PTT) had initially ordered 23,500 security cameras and had contracted to pay TL 70,150,000 for them. By the end of the deal, however, PTT ended up paying more than TL 100 million.

Sertel said the value of the cameras was between TL 35 and 40 million and that it was unclear where the remaining money went. On Tuesday the Ankara 1st Criminal Court ordered a ban on all news items relating to the tender. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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