A defamation trial initiated by Ryan Keating against the Kıbrıs Postası newspaper will start on 5 May at Lefkoşa (North Nicosia) Administrative Court. Four more days have been scheduled for the following week if needed.
At issue is a defamatory article published following a police raid on Ryan’s home and business premises in January 2021.
The political branch of the North Cyprus Police orchestrated the raid in conjunction with customs officials on the pretext that Ryan was producing wine without a permit. (Ryan had submitted an application and was waiting for the permit to be renewed.) During the raid on the business, a café in Famagusta, and Ryan’s home in Iskele, Christian literature, wine and wine making equipment were confiscated.
The day after the raid, Kıbrıs Postası, a prominent Turkish language newspaper in North Cyprus issued a factually incorrect and provocative article about missionary activity in North Cyprus, mentioning the search of Ryan’s property and linking him to pastor Andrew Brunson, who spent two years in a Turkish prison on trumped up terrorism charges.
Ryan’s lawyer demanded that the article be removed as it was both inaccurate and defaming. In response, Kıbrıs Postası made minor edits and also included another expatriate Christian by name. According to Ryan, defamation by the Turkish media is nothing new and is used by the Turkish establishment to manipulate public sentiment against Christians, especially those believed to be actively engaged in evangelism.
Ryan’s lawyer continued to demand that Kıbrıs Postası remove the article from its website and issue a public apology. Eventually the article was removed but the paper refused to apologize.
Charges against Ryan for allegedly illegally importing the Bibles confiscated from his home were dropped in March, however two sets of charges remain: one for illegally importing the Christian literature used for church meetings in the café, the other for providing training in barista skills and wine appreciation without permission from the authorities. The next hearings for these cases are due in June.
Prayer is requested that:
- God will strengthen and encourage Ryan during this stressful period with multiple court appearances,
- God will give Ryan and his lawyer wisdom as they pursue this defamation case and that it will be recognized that the underlying motives for the article were discriminatory against Ryan in particular, and Christian ministry workers in general,
- The court case will make the press in North Cyprus more wary about how they portray the Christian community, and avoid defamatory coverage.