AKP’s Yıldırım files libel lawsuit against left-wing newspaper

Former prime minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım has filed a libel suit against a left-wing newspaper over an article which shared social media criticisms of the AKP and Yıldırım’s involvement in corruption in the run up the June 23 mayoral revote.

Yıldırım’s lawyers claim the former prime minister’s personal rights were violated and are demanding 25,000 lira  ($ 4,300) in damages over an article published in Evrensel newspaper on June 16, independent news site T24 reported. 

The article contains a series of tweets responding to Yıldırım’s election slogan, ‘’We did it and we will do it again.’’

A lawyer for Evrensel said the lawsuit, similar to previous ones filed by Yıldırım, was proof of the politician’s aversion to criticism, noting the AKP and Yıldırım had filed libel lawsuits or moved to block access against all critical news coverage of them.

“The article in question contains posts on Twitter shared by thousands of people who were critical of Yıldırım in the lead up to the Istanbul municipal election. Evrensel only shared these in an article,’’ lawyer Devrim Avcı said.

A Turkish court blocked access to an article critical of AKP’s Yıldırım by Mehmet Yılmaz in T24 news site in the run up the June 23 Istanbul revote. Numerous other articles criticising the AKP candidate were also blocked in the run up to the polls.

AKP’s Yıldırım lost the Istanbul mayoral revote to opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu in a landslide victory of more than 700,000 votes from around 13,000 in the first election on March 31, which the ruling AKP successfully appealed. İmamoğlu’s victory has ended the 25-year-long Islamist rule in the country's largest city.