Deputy PM Arınç would disapprove of Sabah and ATV acquisition on PM’s order
Deputy PM Bülent Arınç speaks to the media after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara Feb 10. AA photoGovernment spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has responded to claims that a group of businessman were instructed by the prime minister to buy daily Sabah and the ATV station, saying he would disapprove of such a thing if it were true.
“Honestly, I would not approve, neither would I find it elegant if such a thing happened, that a group of people can be steered to [buy media groups] and some people mediate the selling and buying of a newspaper,” Arınç told reporters on Feb. 10 following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara.
He said he was aware of the phone conversations that leaked onto the Internet last month, in which businessmen allegedly spoke about the pressure they faced from the government to buy Sabah-ATV.
Phone records between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his son Bilal Erdoğan, and a number of ministers and businessmen, indicate that Erdoğan instructed former Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım to tell a group of businessmen to buy the Sabah newspaper and the ATV television station by creating a pool to collect the necessary amount of money.
It has also been reported that the sale of ATV-Sabah was the subject of a probe that came to a halt when its prosecutor was removed from office after the Dec. 17 crisis.
“If the prime minister talked with some people and steered them, inciting them to buy media outlets and if creating a pool to collect the money for sale was planned, it’s up to prosecutors to decide on the legal definition of this,” Arınç said, acknowledging that this could constitute a crime.
“If such a conversation exists, but does not legally amount to a crime and can only be disapproved of ethically, still the prospect of what can be done can be found within the law,” he said, stressing the
importance of the presumption of innocence.
“Every day, new recordings are being published. If this were to reveal who does what and why, it could really be seen as political purification. But we have to respect the universal principles of justice as much as we can. The revelations of those recordings and the releasing of the evidence of investigations conducted by a prosecutor looking into millions is not very scrupulous, and does not comply with the presumption of innocence,” Arınç said.
The deputy prime minister also touched on the deportation of Today’s Zaman’s Azerbaijani journalist Mahir Zeynalov, dismissing the fact the authorities did not renew the reporter’s permit following his critical tweets.
“I would advise him to compare Turkey with own his country, if possible. We don’t deport anyone due to tweets, but if a comment on Twitter can be considered an attempt to violate privacy rights according to Turkish Penal Law, this is valid for everyone,” Arınç said.
Today’s Zaman claims the decision for Zeynalov’s deportation resulted from an application by the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center (BİMER), following comments on his Twitter account that were critical of the Turkish government and Erdoğan. Government sources have denied the claims, saying Zeynalov’s work permit was not extended and he went back to Azerbaijan of his own free will.