One of the most controversial issues of Turkey’s local elections held on March 31 was the state-run broadcaster Anadolu Agency (AA) which stopped reporting election results and did not provide data for 13 hours as the opposition candidate closed the gap.
Şenol Kazancı, the General Director of AA, had become the linchpin of these dubious developments on the election night.
According to the sources, after the censorship on the night of March 31 elections in Turkey, AA being administrated by Şenol Kazancı received the election data from the AKP authorities instead of Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council (YSK).
Thus, the AKP government was accused of manipulating the election results through the state-run broadcaster Anadolu Agency in this way, because the results did not meet the expectations of the ruling AKP that lost to major cities.
In a meeting with the employees of AA following the recent local elections and censorship scandal, Kazancı allegedly said: "I take sides with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Whether you like it or not, I am his man. I have been insulted and cursed, but these curses are included in my [high] salary".
Denying the allegations, AA said in a statement that Kazancı’s speech to the AA employees was distorted and leaked.
KAZANCI, AN AKP MILITANT
After his education in Islamic Imam Hatip high school, Şenol Kazancı graduated from the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. After working as a lawyer for a long time at pro-AKP Albayrak Holding, Kazancı became the editorial director of TV Net, a news channel under the control of the ruling government. Until 2011, he also wrote for Islamist and pro-government daily Yeni Şafak [‘‘New Dawn’’]. In the same year, he was appointed as the advisor to the prime minister.
He was the founding chairman of the AKP Istanbul Provincial Youth Branch before being appointed as the General Director of the Anadolu Agency.
Following the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the President in 2014, Şenol Kazancı was appointed as the Office of Senior Counsellor of the President, and the Head of Corporate Communications Department at the Turkish Presidency.
Şenol Kazancı is a high school friend of the Turkish President’s son, Bilal Erdoğan. This friendship is claimed to have a great influence on his career rise.
DECEMBER 17-25 CORRUPTION SCANDAL
According to phone recordings leaked by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), Kazancı was one of the figures who got involved in Turkey’s corruption and bribery investigation on December 17-25, 2013. At that time, Şenol Kazancı was the advisor to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The phone recordings between Kazancı and Kasım Bostan, the Head of Financial Affairs to the Prime-Ministry, indicated that they needed a shredder and a safe deposit box to keep the money coming from the corruption and bribery. After they provide the shredder and safe box, Kazancı and Bostan agreed to give information to then-Interior Minister Efkan Ala, according to the phone recordings.
The Gülen network, or with its contemporary name ‘‘FETÖ’’, is a religious sect led by the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who had strong relations with the AKP government particularly until December 17-25 corruption and bribery scandals in 2013. Due to sharp internal power struggles within the state apparatus, the AKP government and its former collaborator Gülen network have fallen into dispute. After the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey, the AKP government officially started to deem the Gülen network as a terrorist organization and named it ‘‘Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ]’’, considering ‘FETÖ’ as the prime suspect of the coup attempt.