Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the opposition’s presidential candidate, on Monday warned Turkish government officials over their attempts to intervene in elections, recalling the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Kılıçdaroğlu targeted Fahrettin Altun, the chief of communication in the Turkish presidency in a post he shared on Twitter, as well as some names he listed claiming to be in Altun’s team.
“Only two days has been left for the last two days,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his tweet, implying that the government will change hands after 14 May polls.
“Fahrettin Altun, Serhat and his teammates Çağatay and Evren; the world of the dark web you are trying to make a deal with will put you in the hands of foreign intelligence agencies. Boys, playing Cambridge Analytica is beyond your capacity. That is my last warning,” the politician said.
Altun immediately responded to Kılıçdaroğlu’s tweet, accusing the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of defaming his deputies as well as the head of information technologies in the presidency’s communications agency.
The presidential aide said that the attempts of defaming government officials carried out by Kılıçdaroğlu’s public relations agency, which he claimed had been writing the politicians tweets, could be understood to a certain extent.
“But, it is unacceptable for any politician, who has internalised democracy, to revert to a policy of gossip and libel, to target public servants by mentioning their names,” Altun said.
Claiming that Kılıçdaroğlu’s public relations agency operates from a foreign country, Altun added that the responsibility of such attempts falls on the politician’s shoulders.
“Minding the supreme interests of our state and our nation is the responsibility of not only the government, but also the opposition,” Altun said.
“We know what you aim for with this statement, what you are trying to prevent,” he added, accusing the opposition of using methods to manipulate social media and vowing to struggle against disinformation.
The data harvesting scandal centred on British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica broke out in 2018 after several outlets reported that the firm used personal data of up to 87 million people it acquired from Facebook to influence election results.
In 2022, Facebook owner Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle the class action launched in the United States over Cambridge Analytica’s data breech.