Expressing her surprise for the government investigation, journalist Ebru Küçükaydın said, "I have been doing this job for 30 years. This is the first time I am under investigation for asking a question at a press conference"
Antalya is a beautiful Mediterranean cost city growing by leaps and bounds in recent years due to tourism. Touristic compounds, resorts, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts sprout out mostly for the Russian tourists who are the majority of those who come to visit the golden sands and the deep blue sea every year.
This energy and economic activity was sure to bring the friends and family of the ruling AKP rushing here since there was much to be gained from every economic activity that takes place in this city. AKP is infamous for being in every corruption scandal in the land. Multi-million dollar scandals popping up every day have become a common daily affair in Turkish politics and economy where the ruling party’s members, friends, family and relatives take a cut of every lira spent or are bestowed huge government contracts.
Antalya, this growing tourism area was no exception. The previous mayor Menderes Türel from the AKP who came to this position in 2014 immediately set out to establish his business empire in this hot city.
People knew or suspected the corruption oozing from the streets yet these were not talked much due to repression of the AKP government.
On March 31, 2019 people of Antalya finally put a stop to the thievery accusations by electing a new mayor from the opposition as most other major cities in Turkey. As in every city where the leadership changed from the AKP mayors and the previous frauds started to emerge, people started learning how deep the corruption in Antalya was. The new administration lead by the opposition CHP party’s new mayor, Muhittin Böcek, started publishing the wheeling-dealings of the previous local Antalya government. CHP was narrowly able to secure the local government with the support of the nationalist IYI party and the pro-Kurdish, pro-democracy HDP party.
These outings were not received well in the current Turkish government of AKP. As their outrageous dealings became the talk of the country, the Turkish government decided to crack down on the journalists who just didn’t leave the matter alone.
In a press conference organized on the contract for leasing the Konyaaltı beach, journalist Ebru Küçükaydın dared to ask questions on the corruption scandal to the new mayor Böcek. The questions involved the Alkoçlar corporation’s dealings with the previous administration when AKP was in charge. Her questions revolved around the conflict-of-interest matter where the previous AKP mayor had been working as a consultant to the Alkoçlar corporation that was grabbing contracts from the city when he was the mayor.
The corporation involved in corruption complains about questions
The press conference questions were deemed inappropriate by the Alkoçlar company deeply involved in the corruption and after their complaint to the district attorney, the Turkish government opened an investigation against the journalist for questioning the relation between the business and the ex-government of Antalya.
Expressing her surprise for the government investigation, journalist Ebru Küçükaydın said, “I have been doing this job for 30 years. This is the first time I am under investigation for asking a question at a press conference. This means from now on a doctor will not be able to come up with diagnosis, an attorney will not be able to defend her client, a teacher will not be able to teach in the classroom, and a journalist will not be able to ask questions in a press conference. I will continue my legal fight in the courts. I will fight back as a journalist.”
The journalist associations and guilds have stood behind Küçükaydın. The Association of Contemporary Journalists and others have condemned the investigation. In their statement, they emphasized that the investigation was not due to even the publication of a news item but was for asking questions.