Court approves jail sentences for 4 HDP parliamentary candidates
Prosecutors investigate social media users for Halkbank fine posts
The Istanbul public prosecutor's office today announced the launch of an investigation into social media accounts claiming the United States had decided on the amount to fine the Turkish state-owned Halkbank for its involvement in breaking sanctions on Iran, the left-wing Birgün newspaper reported on Friday.
The prosecutor's office insisted that no such decision had been made and said that social media users claiming otherwise intended to harm Halkbank, "an important Turkish institution."
U.S. authorities are set to punish the state-run Halkbank for breaking sanctions on Iran after the bank's former deputy general manager, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was sentenced to 32 months in prison by a U.S. federal court on May 17.
Atilla was found guilting of setting up mechanisms through Halkbank which allowed Iran to move its money internationally by trading gold and imaginary food exports.
Some Twitter and Facebook users this week shared posts saying that U.S. authorities had decided on the amount of the penalty, much more than $9 billion that some have been predicting. Some speculate such a fine would potentially be enough to spark a financial crisis.
The posts also claim that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sent a delegation to the United States asking for the announcement of the verdict to be delayed until after the elections on Jun. 24.
The prosecutor’s office said today that those posts harmed the credibility and reputation of Halkbank and violated article 107 of Turkish capital markets law regulating fraud. Source
Turkey’s foreign residents vie with tightened permit rules
New rules for foreigner citizens getting a short-term non-working residence permit to remain in Turkey, introduced at a time when the screening process is also being further intensified, have left many, especially those with less Turkish, struggling to negotiate the process. A blog post by Michael Butterworth on the travel website Pilgrimaged gives details of how to negotiate one of these new obstacles – the compulsory health report, which is needed alongside private health insurance.
“After taking your information, the front desk will give you seven barcodes with the names of seven doctors attached to them (ophthalmologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, internal medicine, ENT, pulmonologist, and one that I’m forgetting),” it said. “X-rays are probably the second biggest bottle neck, so I would do that immediately after giving blood.”
For another new requirement – criminal background checks – the procedure differs according to the rules of applicants’ home countries. Proof of income from abroad will also be needed , and the permits will now be for one year initially then extended by five months at a time rather than being issued annually. “On the whole, short-term residence permits will be evaluated more sensitively compared to the past,” consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers also said of the changes. Source
Is Istanbul’s airport megaproject too big?
Istanbul’s as-yet-unnamed new airport is due to be opened in October, but according to Borzou Daragahi in Foreign Policy magazine it may be too big for its own good.
The airport is just one of a string of megaprojects pledged by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in election campaigns from 2011 onwards. Erdoğan is currently campaigning to retain his position in June 24 snap elections. When the second phase is complete, it will have the capacity for 200 million passengers a year, almost double that of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which is presently the world’s largest, and will fly to more destinations than any other airport on earth.
However, Daragahi said, many of Erdoğan’s critics believe that the airport was a poorly-planned project intended merely to boost the government’s prestige. The price of its enormous size is long walks for passengers and complex logistics that could overwhelm the project.
“It is possible in my view for an airport to get to be too big and to reach a point where there are operational negatives, prompting for example air traffic control difficulties,” Daragahi quoted David Bentley, a London-based airport analyst at the Centre for Aviation, as saying. “It is possible that such a size is actually too great for existing technologies to handle.” Source