Leaks show news stories first checked by Erdoğan family

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The children of the Turkish prime minister Bilal (L), Sumeyye (R) and Esra (C, back) and son-in-law Berat Albayrak (2nd L) attend a ceremony in Ankara on July 1, 2014 for the announcement of the AKP's candidate for the country's first direct presidential election. AFP PHOTO / POOL / UMIT BEKTAS / AFP PHOTO / POOL / UMIT BEKTAS

An email included in Wikileaks’ Monday publication of the leaked emails of Berat Albayrak, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s minister of energy, shows that news stories targeting the Gülen movement were circulated between Erdoğan family members before they were published by the pro-government media.

A news report that appeared in the Sabah daily on Feb. 3, 2014 was sent by email to Bilal Erdoğan, son of President Erdoğan, on Feb. 2, 2014. The story, published under the headline “Gülenist dormitory with public money,” includes a message that the allocation of public land to the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), an organization for which President Erdoğan’s son Bilal serves as an executive board member, was not a crime.

The Erdoğan family’s control over the media came to public attention when a voice recording was leaked on the Internet in early 2014. According the recording, which allegedly included a phone call between Bilal Erdoğan and Erdogan on Dec. 18, 2013, a day after graft operations emerged that implicated Erdoğan’s inner circle, Bilal Erdogan tells his father that he has met with Albayrak and editors and that the media had written headlines to attack the Gülen movement. Bilal Edoğan also tells President Erdoğan that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) should supply information to reporters in the pro-government media.

Over 95 percent of the Turkish media is believed to be controlled by the Erdoğan government. According to Turkish media organizations, over 150 media outlets in Turkey have been closed down, 866 journalists fired from their jobs and 620 journalists have had their press cards canceled in past months over alleged links to a failed coup on July 15, which claimed the lives of more than 240 people.

According to PEN International, 145 journalists have been jailed by the Turkish government since the abortive coup in July.

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