Turkey bans reporting on a previous news ban on minister’s property purchases

A Turkish court on Friday approved Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak’s request for a ban on news reports about a previous ban the minister petitioned, news site Duvar reported.

The original ban was issued against reporting by the Cumhuriyet newspaper that revealed Albayrak’s purchase of plots of land along the planned route of Kanal Istanbul, a shipping canal project designed to bypass Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait.

The second ban on Friday covers all reporting on the original ban imposed on Feb. 12.

The original Cumhuriyet report said Albayrak, the son-in law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had purchased 13 hectares (3.2 acres) of land along Kanal Istanbul, one of Erdoğan’s mega projects. If the project is completed, Albayrak’s newly acquired plots would skyrocket in value when new zoning plans accommodating the canal would go into effect.

An official of the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation told Cumhuriyet that Albayrak bought the land in 2012 in order to prevent it being sold to foreigners, citing the minister’s father, Sadık Albayrak.

The plot bought by Albayrak is still officially registered as farmland, but in the ministry’s Kanal Istanbul it is included in new residential zones, Cumhuriyet said.