University refuses to release information on Erdoğan’s questionable diploma

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The İstanbul-based Marmara University, from where Turkish President Recep Erdoğan allegedly graduated, has rejected a request for information about the diploma of Erdoğan, who has been at the center of a controversy regarding his university degree since 2014, local media reported on Tuesday.

A four-year university degree is a prerequisite to hold presidential office in Turkey.

There has been an ongoing debate since Erdoğan’s election in 2014 as to his completion or not of university since the Office of the President has provided no satisfactory documentation of his graduation.

The application demanding that detailed information on the president’s university degree be shared with the public within the scope of Law No. 4982 on Right to Information was submitted by the People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-expansionist political party.

Responding to the request, vice rector Mustafa Kurt indicated that they cannot share such information under Law No. 6698 on the Protection of Personal Data.

“The information regarding our students …  cannot be shared with third parties, even if they are close relatives, without the prior knowledge, consent and approval of the adult, since it is within the scope of the privacy of personal data,” Kurt said.

The claim that Erdoğan does not have a degree has long been discussed in Turkey. Marmara University had released a copy of Erdoğan’s diploma; however, the diploma caused more doubt. It named the “School of Business Administration” as the department Erdoğan graduated from; however, Erdoğan previously wrote in his CV that he graduated from the faculty of economics and commercial sciences.

Marmara University’s diploma query system was shut down by court order on July 18, 2014, the year Erdoğan was first elected president. Despite challenges for Erdoğan to introduce his college classmates, none have materialized, while Erdoğan often refers to his high-school classmates.

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