Yilmaz Ozdil, one of the most prominent anti-government journalists and a columnist at largest pro-opposition daily, Sozcu, had to announce last week that he was taking some time off from his popular columns after reports that he was involved in a scheme to build a multi-million dollar beach-side mansion. While Turkey’s relentless opposition in the media were pondering over how to respond to this embarrassing situation, Turkish public found out it was only the tip of the iceberg.
After wide-range national coverage of how Ozdil managed to switch his lot with the adjacent beach-side public property to build a multi-million dollar villa, main opposition CHP-run municipality had no choice but to step in. On the top of the parcel scheme, Ozdil had also added some extra illegal extensions to his beach-side crib. The Bodrum municipality only settled for dismantling the those extra illegal parts rather than addressing the whole parcel scheme which enabled Ozdil to build a his villa on a public property. Yilmaz Ozdil whom harshly criticizes the government on every occasion for corruption apparently felt embarrassed and took time off from his popular columns.
A couple of days later, the extravagant tourist destination Bodrum’s image was tarnished once more by another shocking illegal construction news by another popular journalist. Turkish media reported on May 13th that the former head of Turkey’s secular Cumhuriyet daily, Can Dundar, also invaded some public property to extend his colossal summer crib on the banks of Bodrum overlooking the Aegean sea. Turkish media reported that 188 square meter public property was invaded by Dundar and annexed into his backyard. Prosecution immediately launched an investigation. However, scandals involving famous journalists was not about to end.
This time it was Turkey’s most watched anchor, Fatih Portakal’s turn. Portakal had purchased a multi-million worth farm in the Aegean city of Izmir. However, the latest reports revealed that he had built 3 illegal constructions on the farm. The famous anchor also applied to the amnesty law to register and bank-in on his illegal constructions. The irony is that Portakal has been an ardent critique of the construction amnesty law of the government saying it meant rewarding people for occupying public properties.
The nightmare of Turkish journalism did not end there. Latest saga of the illegal construction scheme among popular Turkish journalists came from Soner Yalcin, the owner of Turkey’s shadowy operational website Odatv. Yalcin also owns a large farm near Izmir overlooking the Aegean sea. It turned out that he has illegally built 3 floor, 12 room, 1000 square meter mansion on his farm specifically designated for agriculture. Turkish media reported that he posted a large Ataturk poster on the construction site to stop the neighbors from questioning the illegal work.
Since the story of how these four journalists played schemes and abused the laws to legalize their multi-million dollar worth invasion of public properties, their loyal viewers and readers may have come to question that if the candid image they have been portraying day in and out is nothing but a hoax. For now, only Yilmaz Ozdil could not take the embarrassment and took an indefinite leave. The other three, however, preferred to continue to seek for justice.