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Turkey’s drone producer Baykar buys land owned by pro-gov’t daily

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Turkey’s pro-government Hürriyet daily has sold a large piece of land in İstanbul that housed its old printing facilities to Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar, whose chief technical officer is Selçuk Bayraktar, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for nearly $42 million, the Halk TV news website reported on Thursday.

Baykar, the CEO of which is Selçuk’s brother Haluk Bayraktar, reportedly paid TL 816,551,000 ($41.8 million) for a 61,480-square-meter parcel of land that hosted four of Hürriyet’s printing facilities in Esenyurt as well as other buildings.

Hürriyet is owned by the pro-government Demirören Group, which purchased media outlets owned by Turkey’s then-largest media group, Doğan Holding, including the Hürriyet newspaper and broadcaster CNN Türk, in March 2018. The move was seen as one of the most severe blows press freedom has sustained since a failed coup in July 2016, following which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a massive crackdown on independent media outlets under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

In a statement on Twitter, Baykar announced that it had purchased the land where Hürriyet’s old printing facilities were located with the revenue it earned from the export of drones and would use the land and facilities as a warehouse and for an expansion of its production.

Baykar has been exporting drones to more than 20 countries. The company announced earlier this year that exports accounted for as much as 98 percent of the company’s annual sales in 2022.

According to an announcement by Turkish state lender Ziraat Bank in late March, the  Demirören Group repaid only TL 586,221,750 ($30 million) of the $895 million loan it had taken out to purchase media outlets in 2018.

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