Turkish newspaper appoints new chief editor mentioned in WikiLeaks

Hürriyet, one of the highest-circulated newspapers in Turkey, on Monday announced the appointment of journalist Ahmet Hakan as the new editor-in-chief, three years after a leaked e-mail revealed a conversation discussing the possibility.

Hakan’s appointment followed the resignation of Vahap Munyar, who made the decision after 42 Hürriyet employees were sacked last week.

WikiLeaks had published an e-mail dated May 2016 to Turkey’s then-minister of energy and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is currently the minister of treasury and finance, from his brother Serhat Albayrak where Turkish businessman Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ suggested Hakan to head the newspaper.

Yalçındağ, Turkish billionaire and media tycoon Aydın Doğan’s son-in-law, had written of his efforts to find a person he could personally vouch for due to the editorial change necessitated by “wrongdoings in the newspaper.”

“In the end I will hand over a job under I am responsible for to a new person, but it must be someone who won’t put me in any difficulty,” part of Yalçındağ’s e-mail read. He had concluded by saying Ahmet Hakan would be suitable for the job.

The Demirören Group, known for its close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), had purchased Hürriyet and other media assets belonging to Aydın Doğan in 2017, which was widely perceived as the final nail in the coffin of free media in Turkey.