Turkish state news agency denies bias on Istanbul election night

Turkey's state-run Anadolu new agency defended itself against accusations of bias towards the ruling Islamists after the secular opposition candidate in the repeat vote to elect a mayor of Istanbul said it had stopped releasing vote tallies after the first ballot when it looked like the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party had won.

The two top candidates in the June 23 rerun election, Binali Yıldırım of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition’s Ekrem İmamoğlu held a live televised debate on Sunday. The electoral authority first declared İmamoğlu narrow winner of the original vote held on March 31, but later cancelled the result after the AKP alleged irregularities.

With less than 4,500 votes separating the two rivals on election night and a significant number of ballot boxes left to count, Yıldırım declared victory, after which Anadolu stopped updating results saying it had stopped receiving data.

Asked why he thought Anadolu had done so, İmamoğlu said it was because "it did not serve their purpose, that's why".

The agency said İmamoğlu's remarks were unjust and said it transmitted data, and did not announce election results.

"We respectfully announce that once again we condemn İmamoğlu for persistently targeting our agency and making unjust accusations despite all the statements we have made," said Anadolu in a written statement late on Sunday.