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Reporter faces probe over story on minister buying land near Kanal İstanbul route

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Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a reporter from the Cumhuriyet daily due to a report she wrote last month about Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak buying land around the route of the Kanal İstanbul project, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

On Jan. 22 Cumhuriyet ran a report by Hazal Ocak, claiming that Albrayrak, who is also the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, bought 3.2 acres of land around the route of Kanal İstanbul, an artificial waterway the Justice and Development Party (AKP) plans to have constructed in İstanbul.

An investigation has been launched into Ocak on allegations of insulting a public official.

Access to the online version of the article as well as to a cartoon about it from the satirical magazine Leman was blocked by an İstanbul court at Albayrak’s request.

Kanal İstanbul, which Erdoğan dubbed his “crazy project,” will bisect the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Marmara and Mediterranean seas. It is scheduled to be completed by 2023; however, there is widespread public opposition to its construction due to environmental and financial concerns.

According to Cumhuriyet, Albayrak purchased the land in the Arnavutköy neighborhood of İstanbul in 2012, one year after Erdoğan announced his plans for construction of the channel.

Following Cumhuriyet’s report, Albayrak’s lawyer Ahmet Özel issued a statement and accused the daily of directing baseless accusations at the minister.

The lawyer said Albayrak’s father, Sadık, bought real estate in the same area in 2003, and when the land next to his father’s went on the market in 2012, Berat Albayrak wanted to purchase it to prevent another person from owning land adjacent to his father’s parcel.

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