Ruling AKP mayor in northern Turkey threatens media over assets coverage

A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayor in the northern province of Zonguldak has threatened Turkish media over reports the official said provided misinformation on his assets, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Ali Bektaş, the mayor of the town of Kozlu, dismissed recent media reports that he owned hotels in Turkey’s southern tourism haven of Antalya province, saying "nobody would be safe on the streets” as he would go after outlets that covered the story.

A number of Turkish media outlets reported in April that Bektaş owned a string of hotels worth 40 million liras ($5.9 million), which he claimed to have purchased with his own savings.

Bektaş said he took the matter to court, but the case was dismissed by the prosecutor’s office, citing press freedom.

"Either the judiciary will do what is necessary or I will,’’ Cumhuriyet quoted the AKP mayor as saying. "I will do unto everyone whatever is necessary. I am openly threatening (them).’’ 

Press freedom in Turkey has seen a sharp decline during the 18-year rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP government. The country has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, where long-term pre-trial detentions and long prison sentences has become a common practice.