Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Sunday lashed out at a controversial private defence contractor which placed an advertisement in one of his television interviews.
Many in Turkey, including Kılıçdaroğlu himself, saw the defence contractor SADAT’s advertisements as both threat and provocation targeting the opposition leader.
“I will take what little you have left of your brain, you paramilitary scum. Who do you think you are threatening?” Kılıçdaroğlu wrote on Twitter.
The SADAT Defence Consultancy was founded in 2012 by general Adnan Tanrıverdi, who had been expelled form the army for his extreme Islamic beliefs in 1997. The company, which is heavily involved in Turkey’s military operations abroad, says on its website that its mission is to “establish a defensive collaboration and defensive industrial cooperation among Islamic countries to help Islamic world take the place where it merits among superpowers by providing consultancy and training services.”
Tanrıverdi specialised in asymmetric warfare during his time in the Turkish military, and he has close ties to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He served as a consultant to Erdoğan until he announced his resignation in 2021.
Last May year, Kılıçdaroğlu went to the entrance of the company’s headquarters in İstanbul, but was refused entry. The CHP leader told reporters outside that SADAT could be a threat to election security.
“The founder is a retired general and a former advisor to Erdoğan. The executive of a for-profit company was at the table where the most sensitive matters of state were discussed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said about SADAT a week later during his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
This is why the SADAT advertisements that appeared during the Kılıçdaroğlu interview on TV100 were seen by Turkey’s opposition as intending to unsettle the CHP leader. Many on social media also criticised the TV channel, saying that broadcasting SADAT advertisements is no different to broadcasting Islamic State (ISIS) advertisements.
TV100’s executive editor Alican Değer published a statement in response to the reactions on social media, saying that the advertising department had accepted the advertisements without knowing their political message or their hidden intrigue.
“The broadcast executives intervened the moment they noticed the situation. The advertisement was taken off air. It was not used during the rest of the programme. But all hell broke loose in the meantime,” he said, adding that the company had contacted the channel a month before for their advertisements.
However, Değer’s statements contradicted those of Melih Tanrıverdi, SADAT’s CEO and brother of Adnan Tanrıverdi.
According to his statement on Twitter, SADAT recognised in 2022 that putting out advertisements in programmes including Kılıçdaroğlu would increase their ratings, so the company sought opportunities to place their advertisements with other opposition TV channels, but decided at the last minute to choose TV100 when they learned this week that the channel was to broadcast an interview with the CHP leader.