Turkish prosecutors have launched another investigation into jailed journalist Murat Ağırel – this time upon a criminal complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son of President Erdoğan, and former Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman.
Lawyer Celal Ülgen told Halk TV’s Ayşenur Arslan on June 18 that Erdoğan, Albayrak and Kahraman accused Ağırel of “insulting” them in his book named “Sarmal.” The “insult” accusations concern Ülgen’s claims regarding the formation of the Pelican Group, an informal power group with close ties to President Erdoğan.
“Murat Ağırel has called his wife from the prison and told her that [authorities] tried to take his testimony but that he declined to give it without the presence of his lawyers. The reason [of the testimony] is that Bilal Erdoğan, Berat Albayrak and İsmail Kahraman filed a complaint [with the prosecutors] on the grounds that he ‘insulted’ them in various pages of the book ‘Sarmal,’” Ülgen said, adding that the prosecutors launched an investigation into Ağırel “without even reading” the relevant passages of the book.
Ağırel, a columnist from the opposition daily Yeni Çağ, is already jailed in another ongoing case. He is facing up to 18 years in jail for covering the funeral of a member of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed in Libya. Along with Ağırel, five other journalists are also currently imprisoned for the same funeral report.