Istanbul, Oct 23 () - Doğan Holding Honorary Chairman Aydın Doğan has once again refuted accusations against him regarding the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul.
Doğan’s remarks Oct. 22 came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned the businessman in a speech, saying, “He would have been in high spirits had we given what he wanted about the Hilton.”
“I found Mr. President’s remarks very odd” Doğan said. “Our friends have put forth the facts against this slander, which has been repeated over and over for years by the pro-government media led by daily Sabah.”
Doğan recalled the slander and defamation campaign in pro-government tabloids targeting him and his companies.
“Mr. President is the president of us all, and he is in the post to protect the rights of all of us” he said.
“However, I find it peculiar that he ignores the offensive headlines and stories full of slander in these partisan newspapers against me, and makes remarks that merely incite them.”
Doğan said he is not, and has never been, a political figure, and also is not a political opponent of Erdoğan.
Regarding the accusations about Hilton, Doğan said his group bought the hotel in a transparent tender broadcast live on television at a time when Erdoğan was the prime minister.
“I have never wanted anything special from him [Erdoğan] regarding the Hilton” said Doğan. “I, as a property owner, have only made applications to the authorities within my legal rights and commercial practices. I just wanted my right; it’s that simple.”
Doğan said no construction has been made at the hotel since it was bought, and no trees were cut down.
“Maybe it makes sense for the president to bring this issue up before every election, but I find it odd” Doğan added. “Linking our publications to the Hilton issue is both wrong and unfair.”
Doğan recalled the president’s reaction to an open letter he wrote earlier, noting that as a citizen, he exercised his right to protect his interests and voice his complaints and requests.
“But if the president wants no one to bring forward opposing ideas and wants no criticism, the situation is grave. I don’t want to believe that this is the reason” he added.
“My request from Mr. President is that he clearly states what he wants from me. We are respectful of the requests of all our politicians within the framework of press freedom. We consider our independent publishing as an assurance of democracy, and we are trying hard to continue it” Doğan said.