Turkish gov’t blocks access to stories on Paradise Papers related to PM Yıldırım’s sons, President Erdoğan’s son-in-law

Access to the news stories covering the the documents of Paradise Papers which are related to Turkish Prime Minister’s sons and Turkish President’s son-in-law have been blocked in Turkey, according to a report by Aktif Haber online news portal.

The access to the news articles published by the critical Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, which revealed the fact that there are 5 companies owned by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s sons, 2 companies by his uncle and 4 companies owned by his nephew in Malta, was blocked by Turkish government.

The access to the news stories covering Paradise Papers related to Berat Albayrak, who is the son-in-law of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and at the same time Turkey’s Energy Minister and his brother Serhat Albayrak have been blocked as well reportedly without any court warrant or notification.

A total of 13 million 400 thousand documents, which are called ‘Paradise Papers’, consisting of offshore accounts of 126 politicians and a large number of businessmen from 50 countries, were reviewed and published by 96 media outlets worldwide.

According to the documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Nov. 5, Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım are the adult sons of the Prime Minister Yıldırım, whose family made its fortune in the shipping industry. The brothers are the sole shareholders of two companies registered in Malta: Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd., which was set up in April 2004 and according to public records owns or manages shipping vessels; and Black Eagle Marine Co. Ltd., incorporated in January 2007.

Prime Minister Yıldırım had confirmed the documents, saying nothing illegal took place and that his sons have no immunity from an investigation. “Navigation is a global business; they [his sons] do business all over the world. This is not a hidden issue. They [media] are trying to play with the perception that there is something secret about this business,” said Yıldırım. “Since I am a politician, it is exotic for them to do stories on my children’s activities. I have immunity, but my children do not. I am saying here that all kinds of investigations can be launched.”

Although he called investigation for business operations of his family members and the serious claims of tax evasion a motion filed by an opposition party to investigate claims in the Panama Papers, which included documents about offshore investments of Prime Minister Yıldırım’s family, was rejected on October 8 in Parliament by the votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Another motion for inquiry submitted by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) at the parliament this week regarding PM Yıldırım’s sons’ off-shore accounts was also rejected by the votes of Yıldırım’s ruling AKP.

While none of the other news articles published in the Cumhuriyet daily regarding ‘Panama Papers’ has been blocked, the news which was reported in a meticulous study about 13 million 400 thousand documents consisting the companies of PM Yıldırım’s sons and published in cumhuriyet.com.tr with the title of “Stirps-Size Off-Shore.”

PM Yıldırım and his sons had also filed a lawsuit for alleged damages in the amount of TL 500,000 against the Cumhuriyet daily for publishing a story on the Paradise Papers, which include documents about the offshore investments of Yıldırım’s family.

According to a report by Cumhuriyet, PM Yıldırım and his sons Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım accused the daily of “attacking [their] personal rights” and “preparing a story with special emphasis on insulting and ridiculing.”

“The only suit for damages against the Paradise Papers, which revealed the offshore investments of 126 politicians and leaders around the world, was filed by Binali Yıldırım,” Cumhuriyet said in an online story.

An investigation into Binali Yıldırım’s family enterprise, part of the European Investigative Collaborations’ (EIC) Malta Files, revealed in May that his family currently possesses shipping and related assets of well over 100 million euros, according to reports on the theblacksea.eu and mediapart.fr news websites.

Yıldırım’s family enterprise consists of 11 foreign-flagged ships nested in a network of secretive companies in Malta, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles — specifically now Curacao, with more suspected in the Marshall Islands and Panama. At least four of the ships are financed with huge loans from Swiss and Turkish banks, including one part owned by the Turkish state.

The Black Sea website discovered that Yıldırım’s son, daughter, uncle and nephews have purchased seven properties in the Netherlands, worth over $2.5 million – all of which were paid for in cash.

The investigation also uncovered how the Yıldırıms used one of these Dutch companies to anonymously donate 600,000 euros to the municipality of Pendik, near İstanbul, for a lavish new mosque.

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