INVESTIGATIVE journalist Ahmet Sik vowed to “enlighten our country with the light of truth” as he was confirmed as a parliamentary candidate in Turkey’s snap elections next month.
The high-profile figure will stand for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Istanbul as opposition groups hope that the June 24 elections will end the 16-year rule of the increasingly authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Mr Sik said he was “running to stand in solidarity with the HDP’s presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, as well as all politicians, journalists, students and lawyers who have been imprisoned.”
He is best known for his work in exposing infiltration of the army, judiciary and other key elements of the Turkish state by supporters of Philadelphia-based Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish authorities blame for a failed coup in July 2016.
Mr Sik, a columnist for the Cumhuriyet daily, was one of 13 of the newspaper’s employees convicted last month of “aiding and abetting terror organisations without being a member.”
He received a seven-and-a-half-year sentence, although he remains free pending appeal and ratification of the conviction by Turkey’s Supreme Court.
Globally a third of all imprisoned journalists, media workers and executives are in Turkish prisons, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
However, the country’s tyrannical President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denies that journalists are being jailed, claiming last week that they are all “terrorists.”
Explaining his candidacy, Mr Sik said: “I am running to win today with our people who long for lives that have been postponed for too long.
“I am running to help create a life in which our children’s dreams become realities.”
The economy is expected to play a key role in the parliamentary and presidential elections, with the Turkish lira plummeting an incredible 17 per cent against the dollar this year.
During a visit to London last week, Mr Erdogan stunned business leaders and investors by claiming that low interest rates were key to fighting inflation and promoting investment.
His comments — branded “voodoo economics” by analyst Nigel Rendell — sparked fears that companies could pull out of Turkey.
The HDP finalised its candidates in meetings at the weekend. Officials told the Star that more than 1,500 people had put themselves forward to contest around 600 seats, with half of candidates required to be women.
The party is hopeful of beating the arbitrary 10 per cent threshold required to enter parliament, given that opinion polls have it winning 12-14 per cent of the vote.
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