Yurter Ozcan, US representative of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP),
claimed on Tuesday that CNN International has responded to his complaint about “poor
journalism” of its Turkish outlet, CNN Turk, and has initiated an investigation.
Ozcan alleged that he sent a new letter to CNN International providing information about
the latest news by its Turkish franchise that would help the headquarter in its investigation.
First complaint: CNN Turk distorts opposition leader’s words
In his first complaint letter to CNN International, Ozcan allegedly wrote about a CNN Turk report that had distorted the remarks by Sezai Temelli, co-chair of the Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
During a TV program, Temelli had explained the HDP’s election strategy of not putting forward mayoral candidates in some provinces but supporting opposition parties’ candidates.
Temelli used Ankara and Istanbul as examples, saying, “If elected, Yavas [opposition candidate] should know that it is because of HDP votes. He cannot do politics by ignoring
HDP voters and Kurds. If elected, Imamoglu [opposition candidate] should know that it
became possible with 3 million votes from Kurdish people living there. He cannot do politics
CNN Turk reported the news as though Temelli had said that HDP would run Ankara and Istanbul if opposition candidates won the elections.
CNN Turk allegedly distorted Temelli’s words, saying, “Clear admission and threat from Temelli: HDP, not Yavas or Imamoglu, will run Ankara and Istanbul.”
Ozcan commented in his first letter that CNN Turk was far from following the basic yet universal principles of reporting. “It would be hard to call their work journalism – reporting
the truth to inform the rest of the world,” he added.
By explicitly distorting the remarks of the opposition leader, Ozcan claimed that CNN Turk
aimed to support the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) nationalist discourse.
“This is not the first case in which CNN Turk has worked as an AKP government mouthpiece
spreading propaganda about the opposition,” Ozcan alleged in his letter.
Second complaint: CNN Turk publishes blacklists of opposition mayoral candidates who are claimed by government to support terrorism
In the second letter, Ozcan reportedly provided CNN International with another news report
by CNN Turk last week.
CNN Turk, together with other pro-government media outlets, published detailed lists of
opposition candidates for municipal councils last week, who were claimed to have terror-
In CNN Turk’s report, opposition candidates were listed in detail, including names, photos, ID
numbers, and intelligence notes stating their alleged links.
Following the publications, on Monday, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu verified the
listed candidates and added that those 378 candidates for municipal councils from opposition parties, who are allegedly affiliated with terrorist groups, would be suspended if elected.
The statements and publications just ahead of the local elections drew rebuff from various
parties. Critics have raised their concerns about the blacklists of municipal candidates.
Sezgin Tanrikulu, Istanbul MP of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and
human rights activist and lawyer, reacted to the blacklisting by the Turkish government and
media, stating, “Revealing private information is prohibited according to Law 6698 on Personal Data Protection. Those publications are also a direct intrusion on private life.
Linking people, who have no conviction, to a terror organization is a bad attack on personal
rights,” T24 news reported.
For Tanrikulu, the candidates have the right to sue the interior minister for damages,
including criminal proceedings.
Another lawyer and MP from CHP, Mahmut Tanal, argued they [minister, president, and
media] have been committing a constitutional crime.
“Those candidates have no criminal record. They have even got the approval from prosecutors to run in the elections. And the Supreme Electoral Council has found no obstacle against their candidacies,” Tanal added.
Yildiray Ogur, a columnist for pro-government daily Karar, wrote that those labeled
candidates would likely sue the state and the media outlets for slander.
CHP US representative concluded his second letter mentioning three possibilities of why
CNN Turk published such a report.
“Possibilities to why CNN Turk used the malicious report of the daily Sabah and published it
are as follows:
a) CNN Turk does not know the regulations in Turkey.
b) CNN Turk accuses the Turkish judicial authorities of not performing their duties well and
of letting terrorists stand in the elections.
c) CNN Turk supports the rhetoric of the AKP regime, claiming that opposition parties
cooperated with terrorist organizations, and provided false and immoral news consciously