Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Sunday criticized a visit of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar to former President Abdullah Gül to talk about his possible run against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a snap presidential election on June 24, calling it “tutelage,” the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
Turkish media reported that President Erdoğan on Thursday sent Gen. Akar and Erdoğan advisor İbrahim Kalın to talk to Gül in an effort to prevent his candidacy.
“This is a shame for democracy. There has been no statement on this issue to date,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a meeting with journalists.
Gül on Saturday declared that he would not be a candidate in a snap presidential election on June 24, underlining that his decision was due to a lack of consensus among opposition parties.
Underlining that the media was unable cover the visit due to pressure, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “We have checked the news, it is true. One Internet site published it but quickly deleted it. ”
Turkey’s Habertürk daily fired Barış Erkaya, the editor of its website, after he published a news story on Akar’s visit to Gül.
Erkaya later issued a statement claiming that he had “resigned.”
Describing the declaration of a state of emergency on July 20, 2016 by the Erdoğan government as a “coup d’état,” the CHP leader said: “The coup attempt was suppressed on July 15 . Why did we need July 20?”
Summarizing statistics on the oppression of the media under the state of emergency, Kılıçdaroğlu continued: “The passports of 800 journalists were seized, and press cards were cancelled. A total of 173 media outlets were closed down. More than 3,000 journalists lost their jobs. One hundred fifty journalists are still in prison. The personal assets of 54 journalists were seized. In other words they were left to a civil death.”
Reminding of the increasing pressure on media bosses and the media overall, the CHP leader said, “It seems there are many TV channels in Turkey, but in reality they’re all one channel because the content is the same.”
Turkey, which has jailed more than 250 journalists and media workers, is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released on April 25 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
As the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, Turkey has managed to fall another two places in the past year, which saw a succession of mass trials, according to RSF. If Turkey drops two more spots, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the world’s poorest record in press freedom.