A total of 11 media outlets, including the Zaman daily and Cihan news agency, were not given accreditation to attend the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) extraordinary congress being held on Wednesday.
Among those media outlets not given press accreditation are the Yeni Çağ daily, Birgün daily, Aydınlık daily, Evrensel daily and Ulusal Kanal station. The Bugün station, Samanyolu Haber station, Kanal Türk station, Zaman daily and Cihan news agency, known as being affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement that is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, are also among those media outlets not accredited to attend the congress.
A large-scale propaganda campaign has been conducted by some circles close to the AK Party government against the Hizmet movement and Gülen, particularly since a corruption scandal erupted in December 2013 in which three Cabinet ministers’ sons, many state bureaucrats and well-known businessmen were implicated.
Government officials have accused the Hizmet movement of participating in a “plot” and using the corruption investigation to damage the government. But they have produced no credible evidence to back these claims. Institutions, media outlets, civil society organizations and individuals affiliated with the Hizmet movement have been targeted as part of this large-scale smear campaign being conducted by the AK Party government.
Wednesday’s AK Party congress will determine the ruling party’s new chairman who will succeed President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as prime minister. Erdoğan was the chairman of the ruling party for over 10 years. Incumbent Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is set to be elected as the new party chairman and new prime minister as he is the only candidate nominated to run in the congress for the chairmanship of the AK Party.
Erdoğan is set to take over the Presidency on Thursday.