SLAPP lawsuit filed against academic over Paradise Papers tweet

21 different NGOs and journalists’ organisations call for the dropping of a lawsuit launched against the co-founder of İFÖD Prof. Yaman Akdeniz by Serhat Albayrak, seeking 100,000 Turkish lira in damages for his tweets about the censorship of reports into the criminal investigations and civil lawsuits against journalists who reported on the Paradise Papers.

Press release:

Serhat Albayrak is the owner of pro-government Turkuvaz Media Group and the brother of Berat Albayrak, former finance minister and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law. The Albayrak brothers and Çalık Holding previously sued journalist Pelin Unker over her article series about offshore accounts owned by Albayrak brothers from the time when they were executives of Çalık Holding. The slander case where Çalık Holding demanded reparations from the journalist Pelin Unker was dismissed by the court in December 2020. In March 2021, the Turkish Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) reported that the news articles on the court decision were banned by a court order. Yaman Akdeniz, who is the co-founder of the İFÖD, wrote about the banning order in a Twitter post. In April 2021, another access ban was ordered by the court at the request of Serhat Albayrak on Yaman Akdeniz’s tweet about the censorship of the reports. 

On 5 May 2021, Albayrak filed a suit against Akdeniz for the violation of his personal rights under Article 24 of the Civil Code and Article 58 of the Code of Obligations, seeking moral damages of 100,000 Turkish lira (€9,600) from Akdeniz for his tweets. 

We consider this case to be a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP), an abusive legal action aimed not to be won but to intimidate and to silence voices which are critical and hold power to account. We condemn the compensation lawsuit launched against Prof Akdeniz and call for dismissal of this SLAPP action. We call for an end to the use of SLAPPs to harass and intimidate journalists, academics and human rights defenders by the politicians and powerful individuals with close ties with the Turkish government.

The censorship of reporting related to the Paradise Papers is part of a wider context where the right to freedom of expression and access to information has been systematically undermined by the Turkish government. Overbroad counter-terrorism laws are routinely misused by the Turkish authorities to harass journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, academics, lawyers even doctors. Similarly, SLAPPs are also used as a form of legal harassment by powerful individuals and organisations to avoid public scrutiny, to intimidate and chill critical voices. Many of these lawsuits are initiated by politicians and business people close to the government in Turkey. 

About the Paradise Papers

The Paradise Papers are a set of 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore documents, The documents were leaked to reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, who shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. More than 90 outlets published stories based on the leaks. Turkey is the only country where journalists were investigated for reporting on the leaks.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19
  • Articolo 21
  • Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
  • Danish PEN
  • English PEN
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • German PEN
  • IFEX
  • International Media Support
  • International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • PEN Canada
  • PEN International
  • PEN Norway
  • Platform for Independent Journalism (P24)
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • Swedish PEN
  • The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

MFRR SUMMIT – Criminalising Europe’s Free Press: Legislative Threats to Media Freedom

Laws that target media freedom reconfigure the landscape away from journalists, media workers and outlets. Throughout 2020, countries across Europe, oftentimes using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover, took to creating, reforming or rescinding different laws with an aim to undermine journalistic safety, media pluralism, as well as the transparency and accountability of those in power. Where the rule of law is weak, these laws are enacted with little opposition and scrutiny, leaving journalists having to navigate a new and curtailed landscape, within which they continue to hold the powerful to account. This leaves too many journalists vulnerable to regulatory abuses, arrest and detention, fines or the closure of outlets or platforms. Led by ARTICLE 19, this panel will dissect the legal landscapes of Albania, France and Turkey, looking at proposed defamation reform, restrictions on the press’s engagement with police and a systemic erosion of the legal foundation that protects journalism.


  • Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, İfade Özgürlüğü Derneği (Turkey)
  • Besar Likmeta, BIRN Albania (Albania)
  • Sarah Massoud, Syndicat de la Magistrature (France)
  • CHAIR: Sarah Clarke, ARTICLE 19 (UK)

The online panel will take place on Friday, 19 March 2021 from 14.00 to 15.00 – Turkey time.

ARTICLE 19 – A picture of rapid decline: Turkey’s record on freedom of expression – Online Panel

Looking back over the last four years, what lessons can be drawn for civil society and media actors in Turkey? How can NGOs in Turkey, and those who support them around the world, make better use of international human rights mechanisms to hold Turkey accountable? What can tech companies do to protect the rights of their users in Turkey? How can we best challenge the Turkish authorities’ narrative that all detained journalists are terrorists? How can civil society members find the strength to continue their work?

Join ARTICLE 19’s panel of experts to discuss these questions and more. The panel will discuss Turkey’s record over the last four-year cycle, react to Turkey’s adoption of the UPR and give an update on the latest developments.

Moderator: Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia Programme, ARTICLE 19


  • Yaman Akdeniz, Academic, cyber-rights expert and Co-founder of IFOD
  • Nurcan Baysal, Independent Journalist
  • Mehves Evin, IPI representative and Journalist 
  • Andrew Finkel, Journalist and Co-founder of P24 

The online panel will take place on Monday, 28 September from 18.00 to 19.30 – Turkey time.

Digital Censorship: Turkey’s New Social Media Law and Its Implications for Free Media

The IPI Turkish National Committee hosted the English-language webinar “Digital Censorship: Turkey’s New Social Media Law and Its Implications for Free Media” following the passage of Turkey’s controversial new social media regulations in July which dramatically expands government control over free expression on social media and online platforms.

An initial Turkish-language webinar on the social media law was held to mark Turkey’s Press Day on July 24, which marks the abolition of official censorship in 1908 during the late Ottoman Empire.

Speakers included:

  • Banu Güven, Anchorwoman, journalist for DW Turkish
  • Sergey Lagodinsky, MEP (Greens/EFA), Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee
  • Emre Kızılkaya, Vice-chair of IPI Turkey National Committee; Project editor,
  • Yaman Akdeniz, Academic and cyber-rights expert
  • Scott Griffen, IPI Deputy Director