Turkish court arrests political advisor after comment on jet fuel sale to Israel

A Turkish court has arrested political advisor Evren Barış Yavuz for an opinion piece he allegedly penned years ago. Yavuz was recently targeted by defense company Baykar owner Haluk Bayraktar, for a social media post criticizing the Turkish government’s jet fuel sales to Israel.

Duvar English

A Turkish court on April 13 arrested political communication specialist Evren Barış Yavuz for “instigating public enmity,” “inciting to committing crime,” and “terror organization propaganda” charges.

Yavuz was detained earlier in the day after he was targeted regarding his social media post criticizing the defense company Baykar’s presidents with close ties to the Turkish government for their hypocrisy on Palestine.

After the Turkish Trade Ministry announced export restrictions to Israel on April 9, Yavuz posted a photograph of Baykar owners Selçuk and Haluk Bayraktar at the Jan. 1 rally for Palestine with the caption, “They were selling jet fuel to Israel.” 

Selçuk Bayraktar is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

The Trade Ministry's list of the products Turkey was restricting the export of, included “aviation gasoline and jet fuel.” 

Haluk Bayraktar penned a sharp response to Yavuz, saying he was an employee of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) under newly-reelected Ekrem İmamoğlu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). 

Bayraktar also shared the screenshot of an article titled “Why the Alevis should have had a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of their own,” allegedly authored by Yavuz in 2013.

Bayraktar wrote, “I am addressing Mayor İmamoğlu, who has been feeding these PKK members. Call off your leashed dogs. If you have anything to say to us, be brave and say it directly so we can answer.” 

Before his detainment, Yavuz responded to the barrage of hate comments and targeting he experienced on social media.

He denied that the article in question belonged to him, and said it was a piece written 11 years ago by another author, published on a website he was moderating.

“I am shocked to be declared a terrorist because of this forced connection that would even stump the devil,” he wrote. 

Yavuz added that he believed his comments were used as a pretense to attack İmamoğlu. “Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu is my elected mayor, and that is the extent of my connection to him,” he said. 

Yavuz deactivated his Twitter account following the threats, insults, and targeting he and his family received in the process. 

He added that he would pursue legal action against everyone who partook in the smear campaign. 

The İBB published a statement denying Bayraktar’s claims about Yavuz’s connection to the municipality.

The İBB called Bayraktar’s claims “lies” and “defamation,” and said it would pursue a criminal complaint against him. 

CHP chair Özgür Özel on April 14 shared a social media post regarding Yavuz’s arrest. “An arrest regarding an article written 11 years ago, obviously defies the rule of law. The court should rescind its deliberate punishment.” 

Turkey on April 9 announced it would impose restrictions on exports to Israel, encompassing various products such as steel and jet fuel, until a ceasefire is declared in Gaza. 

The country thus took its first substantial sanction against Israel after six months of conflict, despite being one of the most vocal critics of the Israeli regime and its war in Gaza. 

The vague stance caused a domestic backlash, calling to cease commercial ties with Israel.