Turkish court fines main opposition over video criticizing ex-minister Albayrak for missing $128 billion

A Turkish appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling to fine the main opposition CHP for its 2021 video criticizing former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak over the missing $128 billion in Central Bank reserves.

Duvar English 

A Turkish appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling to fine the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) 40,000 liras over a video it released last year named “The Central Bank's 128 billion dollars is missing, and the 'groom' responsible' for it is on the run.”

The CHP released the video in question on its official social media accounts on Feb. 19, 2021. The video criticizes Former Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over the mismanagement of the economy and asks where the missing $128 billion in Central Bank funds went.

In March, the Istanbul Anatolian 29th Civil Court of First Instance ordered the CHP to pay a fine of 40,000 liras over the relevant video. The issue was taken to the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice for appeal which ruled in favor of Albayrak.

The appeals court argued that the video had exceeded the limits of criticism and had a purpose of “attacking the honor and reputation” of Albayrak, Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish reported on July 5. The court further said that Albayrak was “likened to a thief” in the video.

The relevant video shows a cartoon thief figure carrying a bag of money and running away. The phrase of “The groom is on the run” later appears on the video.

The missing reserves of $128 billion from the Central Bank triggered a publicity campaign from the CHP last year, demanding to know the money’s whereabouts.

The CHP said $128 billion of foreign reserves were used during Albayrak’s tenure to stabilize the Turkish lira and that it was a party’s constitutional right to probe where the country’s reserves were being spent.

The issue of the missing reserves has been taken to the judiciary, but no decision has yet come out.