June 5, 2015 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1165

Dictatorship In Erdogan's Turkey – Part II: The Domestic Scene On The Eve Of Crucial General Elections

June 5, 2015 | By R. Krespin*
Turkey | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1165


The 12-year rule of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is becoming defined by pan-Islamism in domestic and foreign policy, an authoritarian single-man/single-party rule, Turkey's transformation into a police state, mass arrests, curbs on press freedom, elimination of the judiciary's independence, nepotism, and societal polarization. The June 7 general election will determine whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can become a constitutional absolute ruler as he seeks to do, or whether his era has come to an end.

Turkey's AKP party emerged in 2002 promising much-desired democratic reforms that would put Turkey on a fast track to become a EU member state. To date, the party has won three general elections and two local elections, but democracy and freedoms in the country have been progressively lost. The authoritarian, and oppressive approach of the ruling AKP discourages any form of dissent, while nepotism and corruption have peaked. Although Turkey has a parliamentary system of government, in which the president is a nonpartisan figurehead, and although at his August 2014 presidential inauguration he swore to defend the constitution and to remain apolitical and unbiased, Erdogan has violated all these, and operates as if he is still chairman of the ruling AKP, undermining Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (also AKP) in his function as head of the executive branch. Nearly every day, Erdogan addresses mass election rallies on behalf of the AKP, as does Prime Minister Davutoglu; he attacks opposition parties, and is currently seeking votes that will give AKP a supermajority in the next parliament, so that it can singlehandedly change the constitution and the system of government to one headed by a super-presidency that would make him an absolute ruler with no checks and balances. While Erdogan is already operating like a super-president, he wants this anchored in the constitution.

Erdogan's sectarian Islamist policies have divided the country, and his neo-Ottoman and pan-Islamist foreign policy has transformed the NATO-member, EU-member-candidate Turkey into a country sympathetic to and supportive of terrorist organizations and at odds with the West and Western values. As the country faces general elections on June 7, 2015, the once secular, democratic, and Westernized Turkey that the West had hoped would be a model for the rest of the Middle East is fast becoming an undemocratic, Islamist, country itself.

The following report summarizes the AKP's takeover of Turkey's democratic institutions, including media, judiciary, education, and more; its suppression of criticism of it; Erdogan's vendettas and fears and the adulation accorded to him in the AKP; and the elections that will determine the future of Turkey.

Turkey's Democratic Institutions Fall Under One-Party Rule

Taking Over The Media

Throughout the 12 years of AKP rule, and particularly in its most recent term since the 2011 parliamentary elections, Erdogan has intimidated mainstream media, arbitrarily imposed billions of dollars in penalties on media group owners, had prominent journalists fired by blackmailing their employers, taken over large media groups and had them purchased by his Islamist friends and relatives so that they could be turned into AKP government mouthpieces and pro-AKP organs. The pro-AKP media act as the government's arm, threaten opposition voices, and display hostility towards minorities. Often, 10 different newspapers have the same government-dictated front page headline.[1]

Taking Over The Judiciary

During the AKP's 12 years of rule, democratic institutions in Turkey are increasingly losing their independence and impartiality; the most important of these is the judiciary. Erdogan has appointed hundreds of high-court judges and prosecutors from within his own circle to replace those he does not like - leaving the citizens of the country with nowhere to turn in seeking justice. After it removed and imprisoned the prosecutors who in December 2013 investigated Turkey's most extensive corruption and bribery cases ever, implicating government ministers and their family members as well as Erdogan himself and his family, the government had the cases closed, and imposed a strict gag order. Later in 2014, the implicated AKP government ministers were whitewashed of any crime via parliamentary vote. In May 2015, two judges were arrested and imprisoned for ordering the release of a detained media figure and of a number of police officers accused of affiliation with the Gulen movement - headed by Erdogan's former ally and now foe, the U.S.-based Turkish Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen. The ruling, which angered Erdogan, was not implemented because the judiciary's computer network was immediately shut down by the government and, on Erdogan's orders, the ruling was hastily overturned. The judges, now in prison, are the first in Turkey's history to be incarcerated for their rulings; they are being charged with "belonging to an armed terrorist organization."[2] Additionally, the physician wife of one of the judges was fired from her position at a university hospital following her husband's arrest, with no reason provided other than that the request had come from very high up.

Many prominent jurists and other legal and constitutional experts in Turkey have lamented the demise of the rule of law in the country, and the judiciary's bowing to the AKP. According to the recently published "Democracy Inspection Report 2015," prepared by the European academic project Democracy Meetings with Young Citizens, which met in April in Istanbul, Turkey has reached a stalemate regarding the separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and thought, and existence of an independent media. The report also stated: "The new legislation and the amendments to the laws has brought the judiciary under the control of the government, which is against the basic principle of the separation of powers in a democracy."[3]

Financial Institutions Under Pressure

In February 2015, Erdogan harshly attacked Central Bank Governor Ethem Basci for failing to lower interest rates to the level that he had demanded; faced with the criticism that the central bank must remain independent, he called Basci a "traitor," saying that he was "under the influence of external forces" and "dependent on foreign elements and interest lobbies [in Western countries] that are plotting against Turkey's economy." His weeks-long relentless attacks on Basci and also on Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Ali Babacan caused the Turkish Lira to plummet against the dollar, and brought the two officials to the brink of resignation.[4]

Erdogan's Political Vendetta Against Once-Staunch Ally, The Fethullah Gulen Movement

Since the December 17 and December 25, 2013 probes for corruption and bribery, Erdogan has conducted a fierce witch hunt against Fethullah Gulen and his followers, removing thousands of bureaucrats suspected of ties to Gulen from the country's security apparatus and judiciary. Hundreds of security officials and police chiefs are being arrested and prosecuted for allegedly belonging to the Gulen movement. Naming the Gulen movement the "parallel state," Erdogan has designated it an "armed terrorist organization" and "a threat to national security that works to topple the government," with the help of the U.S. and of Israel's Mossad.[5] He said that the government was now entering Gulen's "dens" and swore to fight every member of the movement, including businessmen, journalists, civil society and charity organizations, teachers, imams, donors to charities, and all others inspired by Gulen - who were in fact instrumental in bringing the AKP to power in the first place.[6] In dawn operations all over Turkey, hundreds are currently being arrested and charged with "membership in an armed terrorist organization, and plotting a coup to oust the government." The government also is demanding that the U.S. extradite Gulen for leading such an organization, describing him as a "No. 1 criminal."[7]

Islamization of Education

Under the AKP, Turkey's educational system has been transformed, and is now largely Islamized. Compulsory religious education, which exclusively teaches Sunni Islam, now begins in elementary school, and madrassa-like Imam Hatip schools are fast replacing the secular schools. The number of students in Imam Hatip schools has climbed to over one million, and the government is urging that this number be quintupled in the next five years. Erdogan's own son Bilal is operating as an education minister, organizing meetings facilitated by governors, with regional educators of the Islamic schools and other Islamist foundations. There is also a plan to separate the sexes in non-Islamic schools and student residences, and to deny requests for permits for building new coed schools. In 2013, Erdogan publicly opposed coed accommodations for university students.[8]

On February 19, 2012, Erdogan openly announced his vision for the creation of a devout Muslim youth, a youth that "claims his religion, language, brain, science, honor, home, hatred and revenge." He was quoting from a poem by Necip Fazil Kisakurek, an idol of his, who had shaped many of Turkey's Islamists. The idea of a "hating youth," which disturbed many in Turkey, referred to a youth that hated the West and non-Muslims.[9] Such sentiments, and the general atmosphere in the country, have surely contributed to the emergence of nine million Islamic State (ISIS) sympathizers in Turkey.[10]

Additionally, Erdogan has recently promoted the compulsory teaching of Ottoman Turkish, that is, with Arabic script, in all high schools.

Intimidation Of Erdogan's Critics

Journalists, citizens of all walks of life, including academics, actors, artists, students, and young teens who criticize the government and its policies on social media, even by "liking" another person's post, have found police at their doorstep or in their classrooms with an arrest warrant for "insulting" Erdogan.[11]

Erdogan's Grandiose And Paranoid Behavior

The grandiose presidential palace, Ak Saray ("White Palace"), built by Erdogan, was inaugurated in October 2014 following his election as president in August 2014. With 1,167 rooms, and constructed without building permits and against court rulings, on 35,000 square meters of confiscated land, Ak Saray is many times larger than both Buckingham and the Elysee palaces, and also than the White House and the Kremlin.[12]

The palace is protected at all times by a police force numbering over 1,000. A laboratory in the palace carries out chemical analysis and tests for poison in the food Erdogan eats and the air he breathes.[13] On a May 9 trip to Izmir, in western Turkey, for a campaign rally, Erdogan was accompanied by his entire staff of kitchen workers and servants, to prevent him from being poisoned. The staff inspected the kitchen and the office of Izmir's mayor (of CHP), before Erdogan would visit him.[14]

Ak Saray. Today's Zaman, November 8, 2014.

The Turkish Police State

On April 3, 2015, a highly controversial domestic security law was passed in the Turkish parliament single-handedly by AKP, amidst fierce protests by all opposition MPs in the parliament and by public protests in the streets. Opposition MPs tried every tactic to prevent or delay the vote, including sit-down protests on the floor of the parliament. Fistfights broke out, and seven opposition members were beaten by AKP MPs and were later hospitalized. The law became known in public as the "police-state law" and gave "draconian powers" to the police, which was already being accused by the public of brutality against protestors, especially in light of the deaths of many young people in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

The new law grants rights to the police to perform strip searches and arrests with no probable cause, and without prosecutorial or judicial approval. Police can hold a person for 48 hours, and can delay the individual's access to a judge for up to four days after arrest. Police are now permitted to employ lethal force against protestors using or possessing firebombs, explosives, inflammables, incendiaries, or injurious or similar arms, including slings, pellets, and fireworks, which can be interpreted to include sticks, stones, and the like. Jurists and lawyers have expressed fears that this liberal use of lethal force would pave the way to extrajudicial executions.[15]

Other amendments stipulate prison sentences of up to four years for anyone participating in protests with their faces partially or fully covered. The opposition contends that the only reason for police to break up a protest would be because it was violent, not because protestors are wearing certain attire, uniform or face cover which could be forms of expression and not violence. One of the most strongly opposed clauses of the new law gives government-appointed administrative authorities, such as the provincial governors appointed by the Interior Ministry, prosecutorial powers to send an elected mayor to prison for refusing to provide the police with water cannons containing dyed water, for riot control.

The law, which also allows police wiretapping without a court order, gives the government the ability to manipulate the system and wiretap its opponents, and to prevent any exposure of its own wrongdoings and corruption.[16]

Mass protests in Istanbul against the police laws. Hurriyet Daily News, February 21, 2015.

Use of firearms at the Gezi protests killed Ethem Sansuluk in Ankara; Hurriyet Daily News, June 14, 2013

Campaign Vilifying Independent Mainstream Newspaper 'Hurriyet'

Dogan Media Group's flagship daily newspaper Hurriyet came under attack on May 16, 2015, after it reported on its webpage that Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi had been sentenced to death, under the headline "World in shock: Death sentence for president who won 52% of the vote."

The first attack on the daily came from PM Ahmet Davutoglu, who claimed that Hurriyet's headline was suggestive, given that Erdogan too had won with 52% of the vote in the August 2014 presidential election. The following day, May 17, Erdogan criticized Hurriyet's headline, suggesting that the paper had threatened him with "the same death penalty handed down to Mursi." In the days that followed, he, government officials, and the pro-AKP media launched a vilification campaign against media mogul Aydin Dogan, who owns Hurriyet, and Hurriyet itself in the press and on television. Erdogan accused Hurriyet of working for foreign elements.

Cem Kucuk, an ardent Erdogan supporter, wrote in his column in the Star daily that it was time to take care of Dogan for good, openly threatening him. Deputy AKP chairman Suleyman Soylu said at a rally that Dogan would "pay the price for what he did." AKP Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that Dogan Media and "the parallel" - that is, the Gulen movement - were one and same, and that they were polishing the image of Kurdish Party HDP in order to help them pass the 10% electoral threshold so as to harm the AKP in the June 7 general elections.

The AKP government is known to have used financial means to reward loyalty and punish dissent. In 2009, Dogan was slammed with a "tax evasion penalty" of $3 billion, forcing him to sell some of his group's daily newspapers.

A pro-AKP activist lawyer, Rahmi Kurt, asked prosecutors to launch an investigation against Hurriyet editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin and the entire editorial staff for "inciting hatred and enmity," "inciting people to armed rebellion against the government," "praising the crime and the criminal," and "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization." He also requested that they be arrested.

In a May 19, 2015 front-page editorial, Hurriyet addressed Erdogan, calling his accusations "unjust and unfounded." "What is your evidence [of ill intent]?" it asked. "[So] we used a sentence that you yourself used? How can its meaning be distorted to such an extent?"

The editorial continued: "Mr. President, what do you want from us? Why are you attacking us with blatant injustice and clear distortions? Why are you turning us into a target? What do you want from us? Will you close us down? If you mean that we are afraid of defending our right to freedom of the press, free speech and freedom to criticize, which are all protected by the constitution, then you must know that we will defend these freedoms fearlessly." [17]

Erdogan: I Am Ready To Become A Martyr Like My Brother Mursi

On May 17, at a rally in Kayseri, Erdogan attacked the Dogan Media Group and its Hurriyet daily on the headline incident, saying: "Our death is honorable. Mursi's death is honorable." He told the crowd that if Egypt implements the death sentence against Mursi, which he hoped it would not, then his Muslim brother Mursi will attain the highest status of martyrdom: "If I face a similar fate, I believe that Allah, with His grace, will grant me that high status as well, inshallah. The hill of the shahids [martyrs] is not empty. They are waiting there [for us]. We started walking on our path towards that hill that awaits us, carrying our goal [to join them] with honor and pride over our heads. If we die, we will become shahids on that path. Let that certain team [i.e. Dogan media] ponder what will happen to them when they die."

He continued: "Hey Kilicdaroglu [main opposition CHP leader], hey Dogan Media, hey Pennsylvania [referring to Fethullah Gulen who resides there], hey Kandil [mountain where Kurdish PKK is based], you are not worth my response, but I'll say this to you: 'We are dressed in our [burial] shrouds on Allah's path. This is our belief, our faith. You are wrong if you think that your threats can divert us from our path. And this nation will show you how wrong you are, on June 7 [parliamentary elections day].'"[18]

International Reactions In Support Of 'Hurriyet'

Local and foreign press organizations have reacted to the targeting of press in Turkey. On May 22, the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) called on Erdogan and his supporters in the AKP "to immediately halt the disingenuous campaign of vilification against the Dogan Media Group and its daily newspaper Hurriyet." On May 22, The New York Times published an editorial titled "Dark Clouds Over Turkey", urging a halt to the harsh Turkish policies against democracy and press freedom for the sake of winning elections. It also said about the upcoming June 7 general elections: "While the country has faced tough political campaigns before, this one is especially vicious and the mood seems unusually dark and fearful. Mr. Erdogan appears increasingly hostile to truth-telling. The United States and Turkey's other NATO allies should be urging him to turn away from this destructive path."[19]

Erdogan To 'New York Times': "Who Are You? Know Your Place!"

In response to the newspaper's editorial, Erdogan blasted The New York Times on May 25 in Istanbul, calling it "shameless" and saying that it should know its place: "Who are you? Can you write such a thing against the U.S. administration? If you did, [the administration] would immediately do what is necessary." He said: "A certain media group in Turkey tries to sustain its rule by taking support from certain places. The new constitution and switching to a presidential system will eternally seal the path of these coup-makers." He then accused the Times of "meddling in Turkey's affairs," and called its writers "paid charlatans."

On May 26, Erdogan said of the Times at a joint rally with Prime Minister Davutoglu: "The New York Times said there is pressure in Erdogan's Turkey. What kind of pressure is that? On what you are basing this? Know your place! When did you start to shape [Turkey's] path all the way from America?... They are used to ruling the other side of the world, from 10,000-15,000 kilometers away. But there is no such Turkey anymore. There is no more old Turkey. The New York Times can no longer rule Turkey. This is a new Turkey."[20]

Erdogan In TV Interview: 'Cumhuriyet' Editor-In-Chief Can Dundar To "Pay Heavy Price" Over Video Showing MIT Trucks Transferring Weapons To Syrian Jihadists

On May 29, 2015, approximately one week prior to the general elections in Turkey, the independent liberal daily Cumhuriyet published a video of three trucks being stopped and searched in southern Turkey in January 2014, after authorities received a tip that they were involved in criminal activity. The trucks were found to contain thousands of weapons and ammunition hidden under a layer of medical supplies.. After a hasty cover up of the findings in January 2014, Erdogan and the AKP government later denied such transfers of weaponry to Islamist forces fighting in Syria against the Assad regime existed.

Erdogan, angry at the news story, relentlessly attacked Cumhuriyet and Can Dundar since. Immediately after the publication, government prosecutors demanded that the video and all related texts be removed from Cumhuriyet's website.[21]

In a May 31, 2015 live interview with the state run TRT channel, Erdogan publicly threatened Can Dundar and said: "This slander and this illegitimate operation against the National Intelligence Organization [M─░T] are an act of espionage. This newspaper is involved in espionage activity." He insisted that the trucks stopped that day in January 2014 belonged to MIT and were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria, but the Turkmens denied ever receiving it. "I also filed a lawsuit. The only thing that matters to them is casting a shadow on Turkey's image. The person who wrote this as an exclusive report [i.e. Dundar] will pay a heavy price for this," Erdogan said. "I will not let go of him."[22]

Dundar responded to Erdogan in a tweet On June 1: "The person who committed this crime will pay a heavy price. We will not let go of him," Dundar tweeted.

Erdogan's lawyer is demanding two aggravated life sentences for the prominent journalist. Meanwhile, worldwide condemnations of Erdogan and support for Dundar pour in, in defense of the journalists' right to inform and of the public to know.[23]

Cumhuriyet continues to publish related reports, documenting the secret operations undertaken by the Turkish government and MIT to assist and equip Islamist groups in Syria that are a party to the civil war taking place there. On June 5, the daily published a report titled "MIT Transports Jihadists!", which claims that MIT operated two buses that passed through the border into Syria carrying not only weapons, but jihadist fighters as well."[24]

"My fight [alluding to Mein Kampf] with that journalist will continue, he will pay the price!" (Source: Cumhuriyet, Turkey, June 1, 2015)

Competition For Greatest Adulation Of Erdogan

On May 20, senior Erdogan advisor Yigit Bulut attacked Hurriyet in televised remarks on Turkish state television, threatening violence, civil strife, and bloodshed if Erdogan is harmed: "I am saying this as a citizen. I have two registered guns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Unless I am killed, unless I am hanged, nobody in this country can touch our elected president. I am not saying this as Yigit Bulut only. Like me, there are millions and millions of citizens in this country. Look, I am saying this very openly, to the foreign powers, domestic powers, the established order inside, the ravenous ones: 'Before we all die, that is, before faithful citizens like us become extinct, no one can even touch the seat of the elected president. Setting aside all these newspaper [i.e. Hurriyet] headlines and these disrespectful, humiliating addresses [to Erdogan], I say, before the millions of this country's faithful and believers become shahids, that President Erdogan will not become a shahid. If there are those who want to test this, let them come forth. We are here."[25]

Yigit Bulut, Cumhuriyet TV, May 20. 2015.

On May 21, pro-AKP journalist Fatih Tezcan tweeted: "Yigit Bulut is not alone. He hasn't even said enough. They cannot even fathom what price they would pay and what would happen to them, if harm comes to Erdogan. The eyes will be torn from whoever dares to set his eyes on harming the president elected by the people of this country. And the life will be taken of whoever targets his life. Let this be known!"[26]

Businessman and owner of the pro-AKP Star daily and Aksam media group Ethem Sancak,[27] who is very close to Erdogan, said: "An Arabic proverb says: May my father and mother be sacrificed for you [i.e. the Prophet Mohammed]. I say the same to Erdogan: 'May my father, mother, wife and children be sacrificed for you.'" On another occasion, he called Erdogan a leader that Allah grants once in 300 years, and that meeting him was a turning point in his life. He said: "As I got to know him, I fell in love with him. Such a divine love can exist between two men."[28]

AKP deputy chairman Yasin Aktay was seen in a video with a group of people at an event in the Eastern Anatolia city of Siirt, singing a Kurdish song that included an adaptation of the Salavat prayer for the Prophet Muhammad that praised Erdogan; this brought criticism from some Islamic scholars.[29] Also, according to media reports, AKP MP Huseyin Sahin called "touching Erdogan a form of prayer" and AKP MP Fevai Arslan said, "Erdogan has all the attributes of God."[30]

Ismail Hakki Eser, head of the AKP chapter in Aydin, in western Turkey, is known to have said: "We are in love with our prime minister [Erdogan, at that time]. He is like a second Prophet for us."[31]

Former EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis, drawing a parallel to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, said that the three Turkish cities of Rize, Istanbul, and Siirt should also be recognized as holy cities, as they played a role in the life of Erdogan, Turkey's greatest leader.[32]

Following this outpouring of adulation for Erdogan, some Islamists have expressed discomfort. In a television interview, Islamic scholar and professor of theology Hayri Kirbasoglu complained about the deterioration of Islamic values in Turkey, and said that those values are replaced by love for high posts, fame and money.[33]

The Upcoming June 7, 2015 General Elections

The June 7, 2015 general elections are critical for Turkey. Modern, secular, anti-AKP Turks hope that June 7 will mark the end of the Erdogan era and will return their country to its path towards democratic freedoms, Western alliances, modernity, and good relations with all neighbors, in line with Ataturk's motto, "Peace at Home and Peace in the World." There is fear among this camp that if this opportunity is lost, these may well be Turkey's last elections.

The other side is also nervous; the AKP's popularity seems to be in decline. Many polls have shown AKP's votes falling to 38-39% compared with the 50 and 52% in the last elections. Rumors are spreading about possible government rigging of the elections, or about a possible war with Syria aimed at delaying the elections.  According to Fuat Avni, a whistleblower within the government who has become a Twitter phenomenon with his correct predictions, the AKP has put together a team of 3,500 core loyalists to alter the election results, giving the AKP the majority once again. Grassroots civil organizations such as "The Vote and Beyond" are recruiting volunteers to oversee and protect polling places from government fraud.


* R. Krespin is Director of MEMRI's Turkish Media Project.


[2] Hurriyet (Turkey), May 1, 2015.

[3] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 26, 2015.

[4] Hurriyet (Turkey), February 26, 2015.

[5] TodaysZaman (Turkey), January 31, 2015.

[6] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.375, The Upcoming Elections in Turkey (2): The AKP's Political Power Base, July 19, 2007.

[7] TodaysZaman (Turkey), March 25, 2015.

[8] Turkish Daily News (Turkey), August 4, 2014.

[9] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), February 23, 2012.

[10] Zaman (Turkey), August 26, 2014, based on a survey by Metropoll, on Turks' attitudes towards ISIS.

[12] The real cost of the new presidential palace is kept a state secret by the government. Cost estimated by opposition leaders tops $1 billion, while the media claim the cost as over $5 billion. Opposition leaders claim that every cup Erdogan drinks from in the palace costs 1,000 Turkish lira, while millions of families in Turkey live in poverty on a monthly income well below that figure. Erdogan, for his part, claims that the palace is an appropriate reflection of Turkey's grandeur and prestige.

[13] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), March 10, 2015; Der Spiegel, Germany, March 3, 2015.

[14] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), May 9, 2015.

[15] Hurriyet (Turkey), February 28, 2015.

[16] Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), February 21. 2015.

[17] Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), TodaysZaman, May 25, 2015.

[18] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), May 17, 2015.

[19] TodaysZaman, Hurriyet (Turkey), May 22, 2015.

[20] Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), May 26, 2015.

[21] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), May 29, 2015

[22] Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), Cumhuriyet (Turkey), June 1, 2015

[23] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), Hurriyet (Turkey), June 1, 2015

[24] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), June 5, 2015

[25] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), May 20, 2015.

[26] Yeni Akit (Turkey), May 21, 2015.

[27] Sancak became a tycoon after he was given the opportunity to purchase Star Media Group, the Gunes daily, multiple magazines, and TV stations, and eventually Aksam Media group, as well as the Cukurova Holding Companies owned by Aksam's owner. All of these were confiscated by the AKP government, and sold to him for much less than their real value.

[28] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 15, 2015.

[29] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 24, 2015.

[30] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 24, 2015.

[31] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 24, 2015.

[32] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 24, 2015.

[33] TodaysZaman (Turkey), May 24, 2015.

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