Erdoğan ordered state-run agency to keep silent on Albayrak’s resignation, journalist claims

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and former Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak. AFP PHOTOS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prevented the country’s state-run Anadolu news agency from covering news of the resignation of Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law, as finance minister, to prevent Albayrak from gaining public support for him to remain in his position, a Turkish journalist claimed.

Anadolu as well as many pro-government news outlets in Turkey failed to report on Albayrak’s unexpected resignation on Sunday night, which he announced on Instagram. These media outlets implemented a blackout until an official statement was made by the presidency in the evening of hours of Monday in which it was announced that Erdoğan had accepted Albayrak’s resignation.

According to Deniz Zeyrek from the Sözcü daily, who based his claims on his sources, the communications directorate of the presidency told the Anadolu, “Let us make a statement first [before you report on it],” about Albayrak’s resignation.

Zeyrek wrote in his column that he at first thought this demand was aimed at winning some time before Erdoğan made up his mind whether to accept or reject Albayrak’s resignation. The reason, however, turned out to be something else entirely.

Zeyrek said, based on his sources, that Erdoğan did not want Albayrak to attract huge public attention and sought to prevent calls for him to reject Albayrak’s resignation as was in the case of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

In April Erdoğan declined to accept a decision by Soylu to resign due to the controversial way his ministry declared a 48-hour curfew against the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted many to start panic buying.

Soylu announced his resignation on Twitter, and all the media outlets reported on it. Within the space of several hours Erdoğan received a number of calls on social media as well as from within his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, to reject Soylu’s resignation.

“If Albayrak’s resignation had found extensive coverage in the media, calls might have come from the AKP and the MHP for Erdoğan to reject his resignation. … Albayrak needed the influence of the media, but Erdoğan did not allow him to use it,” wrote Zeyrek.

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