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Court blocks access to reports on mob boss’s claims about pro-gov’t media group executive

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An İstanbul court has blocked access to 33 online news stories covering recent social media posts by mafia boss Sedat Peker that included allegations about Serhat Albayrak, deputy chairman of the Turkuvaz Media Group, which has close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Kronos news website reported on Saturday.

Serhat Albayrak is also the brother of Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and a former finance minister.

Over the last weekend Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who has been making shocking revelations since early 2021 about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members, unveiled a new series of allegations from his Twitter handle, revealing a network of bribery and corruption at Turkey’s stock exchange.

Peker said AKP lawmaker Zehra Taşkesenlioğlu, her brother and former Capital Markets Board (SPK) chair Ali Fuat Taşkesenlioğlu; Erdoğan’s advisor Serkan Taranoğlu and pro-government daily Hürriyet columnist Burak Taşçı were all involved in the operation of the bribery network extorting the owners of companies that are listed on the stock exchange.

Peker claimed that Taranoğlu and Taşkesenlioğlu demanded a bribe of 12 million lira ($660,000 as of Aug. 29, 2022) from Mine Tozlu Sineren, the owner of Marka Investment Holding, for processing her company’s request to issue new shares through increasing capital. Sineren corroborated Peker’s allegations in a live broadcast and said no action has been taken by the authorities despite her complaints.

Peker also pointed to Albayrak as “the power behind” Ali Fuat Taşkesenlioğlu, a claim Albayrak previously denied in a statement released by his lawyer.

The İstanbul Anadolu 5th Criminal Court of Peace banned access to 33 news pieces covering Peker’s allegations about Albayrak, including those published by the Kronos, Medyaradar, TELE1, Muhalif and Birgün daily news websites, on the grounds that they “violated the personal rights” of Albayrak, according to Kronos.

The same court also reportedly rejected a demand to block access to news pieces that include statements by Albayrak’s lawyer.

Turkey was shaken by two corruption investigations implicating then-prime minister and current president Erdoğan’s inner circle that became public Dec. 17-25, 2013. Erdoğan’s AKP government subsequently suppressed the scandal by managing to control the judiciary by creating special criminal courts headed by a single judge, thanks to the AKP’s parliamentary majority.

These judges then jailed all the police and prosecutors who had conducted the 2013 corruption investigations, while Erdoğan and his family members who were implicated have never appeared in court.

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