When users googled the name of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was recently in the news for his conviction on insult charges, on Monday, they encountered a result describing him as the “former” mayor of the city, which led to shock and criticism, according to local media reports.
An İstanbul court last week sentenced İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a key opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to two years, seven months in prison and barred him from politics for allegedly insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK).
The sentence and the political ban must be upheld by an appeals court after a petition is filed.
İmamoğlu, who contrary to the facts appeared as the “former” mayor of İstanbul in a Google search on Monday, reacted by quoting President Erdoğan at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit.
“I speech kürsü [podium],” the mayor said in a tweet addressed to Google’s Turkey office, referring to a conversation between Erdoğan and a moderator while the president was trying to ask if he could make a speech at the podium during the 2019 summit.
— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) December 19, 2022
“Excuse me, kürsü?” Erdoğan initially asked the moderator, to which the moderator replied, “What do you need?” The president then said, “I speech kürsü,” which led to ridicule on social media.
Meanwhile, İstanbul Municipality spokesperson Murat Ongun released a statement on Twitter on Monday saying Google Turkey had informed them that the incorrect information was pulled from Wikipedia and said it could take some time but that they would fix it.
Zorunlu Açıklama: Google Türkiye’nin tarafımıza verdiği bilgi budur. Lütfen, bir/birkaç kişinin Wikipedia üzerinden yaptığı kurnazlığı ciddiye almayalım. Duyarlı yüz binlerce vatandaşımıza ilgileri için teşekkür ederiz. pic.twitter.com/BeVA6YqC02
— Murat Ongun (@Mrt_Ongun) December 19, 2022
İmamoğlu ended the yearslong Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in İstanbul when he defeated the AKP’s mayoral candidate twice in the local elections of 2019. He won the rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.
The İstanbul mayor was tried for a speech in which he said those who annulled the initial 2019 vote were “fools.” However, İmamoğlu said at the first hearing in January that his remarks, which were in response to a question from a reporter, were not aimed at YSK officials but at Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who in an earlier statement used the same word against him.
If the verdict is upheld by the top appeals court after İmamoğlu is certified as a presidential candidate, he would still be able to run for president; however, his win would not be certified and there would be a rerun election, YSK chairman Muharrem Akkaya told the Habertürk news website.