by Edward Steen in Vienna

The board of the Turkish state news agency Anadolu was yesterday eviscerated by the Erdogangovernment. Founded in 1920 by Kemal Ataturk as “the voice of thenation”, Anadolu saw its director and his team purged at a boardmeeting in Ankara. Senol Kazanc?, in charge since 2014, was kickedout, as were four fellow board members.

The change means the agency, already run by Erdogan loyalists, will be brought even closer into the embrace of the president and his immediate family. The new boss, US-educated Serdar Karagoz, was the first editor of the flagship English-language Daily Sabah. He has been working for the state-run TRT news network and Turkuvaz media group, both run by the Albayrak family.

Berat Albayrak is Erdogan’s son-in-law and served as finance and treasury minister until resigning under a cloud last November. Both the former and current directors-general of the agency are reportedly close friends of Erdogan’s son Bilal, with whom they attended the same Istanbul religious school.

The four new board members of Anadolu, which has 3 000 employees, are Yusuf Ozkir, Hasan Nuri Yasar, Ismail Caglar, and Busra Karaduman Aktuna. All have extensive, high-level links to the government, particularly Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun.

Ozk?r and Caglar are closely associated with the leading pro-government think tank SETA - the Foundation for Economic, Political and Social Research, whose July 2019 report on international media in Turkey was accused of inciting harassment by publishing journalists’ personal information and social media links.

In February, the Constitutional Court ruled that moves to place Anadolu under the supervision of Altun as the presidency’s communications director violated Article 133 of the Constitution. This states: “Radio and television stations shall be established only by the state, and shall be administered by an impartial corporate body”. But it is clear that the influence of SETA, the pro-government think tank, will be dominant.

“The latest overhaul at the agency points to a clear reality,” says the anti- Erdogan Ahval news agency. “Anadolu will serve no other purpose than the formal news agency of the Turkish presidency.” The AEJ man in Ankara, Dogan Tilic, observes sagely: “One clique replaces another.”

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