As the leaked emails of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who also happens to be Turkey’s energy minister, reveal his impact on a wide range of issues, one exchange in particular confirms his efforts to ban critical media outlets in the run-up to the June 2015 general election.
On Jan. 29, 2014 Albayrak emailed Hasan Doğan, Erdoğan’s chief of cabinet at the time, complaining about critical TV networks, particularly those close to the Gülen movement, and calls for a renewal review of their broadcasting licenses in an effort to silence these networks.
Albayrak argues in the email that several stations disseminate propaganda for the Gülen movement, which the government began to call a “parallel state structure” following a massive corruption scandal in 2013 that implicated the Erdoğan family.
In the message to Erdoğan’s top aide Doğan, Albayrak also complains about the then-undersecretary of the prime ministry, who ignored the note on critical TV networks. According to Albayrak, when limiting access to critical TV networks was mentioned to then-Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan, they had promised to follow up on the issue.
“Prompt review of this issue before the elections is essential for the results of the elections,” Albayrak said in his email to Erdoğan’s chief of cabinet as Turkey was approaching the first elections to be held after the unprecedented corruption scandals of December 2013.
Albayrak’s emails were first hacked by Redhack in September and published by Wikileaks on Dec 5.
In a separate incident, an advisor of Erdoğan named Mustafa Varank was caught during a commercial break on public broadcaster TRT talking to pro-government columnist Hilal Kaplan about taking action against critical TV stations.