Court blocks access to news reports on donations to Turkish minister's foundation

Access to news on the last allocation of public properties to a government-affiliated medical foundation chaired by Turkey's Minister of Health, Fahrettin Kocakaya, has been blocked at the foundation’s request, Turkish independent news site Artı Gerçek reported on Thursday.

Turkey's health minister was the founder of private hospital group Medipol, which is owned by the Turkey Education Health and Research Foundation (TESA).

Access to online news reports on the transfer of properties owned by Turkish State Railways (TCDD), a guest house and a museum building, and a 555,000 square-meter plot of public land belonging to the state-owned Atatürk Forest Farm (AOC), has been blocked in Turkey by a court in Istanbul, Artı Gerçek said.

Various Turkish media outlets slammed the allocations of public property to a foundation linked to a government minister.

Donations to civil society and charitable organisations known for their close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are a topic of hot debate in Turkey, and news about the lavish spending on these organisations was the focus of intense interest during the campaigns for local elections held earlier this year.

The court banned access to 564 news reports on the matter that it said had used "slanderous and imputative language", Artı Gerçek said.

The ruling was the second this week to block reports suggesting wrongdoing by government figures, after an Ankara court on Aug. 7 blocked access to social media posts on the extra salaries received by the Turkish Presidency’s communications director and his wife, an academic.

Fahrettin Altun and his wife Fatmanur Altun drew heavy criticism after it was revealed that they have been receiving additional salaries from their board membership positions at government-linked institutions.