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Ankara court dismisses case where journalist Çiğdem Toker is sued for an article about PTT

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Ankara – An Ankara court dismissed the case where Sözcü columnist Çiğdem Toker trial was sued for 50000 Turkish Liras in reparations by the Organization of Post and Telegraph (PTT) due to a column titled “PTT’s privileged company” published in Cumhuriyet daily in 2018.

In her Cumhuriyet column from 22 April 2018, Çiğdem Toker wrote an article titled “PTT’s privileged company.” Toker wrote that PTT had awarded a camera procurement auction worth 70 million Turkish Liras to a company called STM, and that this company received 42 million Turkish Liras before even providing any services. In her article, Toker pointed out that Commercial Registry Gazette lists Reha Denemeç, former AKP MP and current senior advisor to the President, as an Executive Board member for this company. Following the publication of this article, PTT sued Çiğdem Toker and Cumhuriyet’s former Executive President Akın Atalay, Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, and Managing Editor Farun Eren for 50.000 Turkish Liras in reparations.

In their petition addressed to the court, PTT had claimed that Toker’s article is “denigrating and includes statements that destroy the credibility of the organization in the eye of the public.”

Fourth hearing of the trial was held at Ankara 20th Civil Court of First Instance today. Judge Ali Çörten stated that the report on Toker’s financial situation has been received by the court. PTT’s lawyer Çağıl Özağır objected to Toker’s listed income. Toker stated that the amount listed in the report is accurate.

Judge Çörten then announced that the investigation period has been completed, and that oral proceedings could commence. PTT’s lawyer Çağıl Özağır stated: “The concerned article presents my client company as a company that organizes illegal tender bids to the public. We demand our request for reparations to be accepted.”

Çiğdem Toker requested the case to be dismissed, noting that her article is based on the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s minutes of proceedings, which are all public information. Toker added that these were from the meeting where National Assembly’s Committee on Public Enterprises reviewed and inspected PTT’s accounts. Toker’s lawyer Evrim İnal stated that the article is in line with apparent truth and that complainant company’s personal rights have not been violated.

Judge Ali Çörten ended the hearing and announced that the court dismisses the case on behalf of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, and Faruk Eren on absence of hostility.

Çörten added that the case is dismissed on behalf of Çiğdem Toker as well on the grounds that the legal ground for non-pecuniary reparations has not been established, ruling that the complainant could not present enough evidence. PTT has the option of appealing this ruling.