Turkey hires PR firm after coup attempt

Turkey hires PR firm after coup attempt
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The government of Turkey has hired the global public relations firm APCO Worldwide to perform “crisis communications” following the failed coup attempt in the country last month.

Turkey has agreed to pay APCO $74,200 for only two weeks' of work that will be performed between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, according to documents submitted to the Justice Department.

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APCO Worldwide will provide “media relations, crisis communications, third party outreach, and social media strategy and development within the United States all in furtherance of promoting positive relations between the Republic of Turkey and the United States,” according to the contract signed by Neal M. Cohen, APCO’s president of global client strategies and vice chairman of its board of directors, and Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kılıç. 

Last month, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was traveling abroad, portions of the country’s military attempted to oust him from power. Erdoğan ordered citizens to go into the streets to support the government, resulting in clashes that killed hundreds of people and wounded more than a thousand.

Erdoğan has blamed Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen for the coup attempt. Gülen, once an Erdoğan ally who fled to the United States, has denied any involvement or prior knowledge of the coup attempt. 

The United States, long a Turkish ally, denounced the coup attempt. President Obama said he “deplored” the action, adding that the Turkish people “deserve a government that was democratically elected.”

But Turkey is leaving nothing to chance in its relationship with the U.S., apparently turning to APCO Worldwide to help deal with the fallout from the failed coup. 

APCO Worldwide previously worked for the government of Turkey, in 2000, but the relationship was terminated in 2007. The firm had also worked for Turkey’s minister of State for the Economy for a month in June 1992, but took no fee.

Turkey’s longest-serving active lobby firm, Gephardt Government Affairs, has been working for the country since 2008. Run by former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), the firm and its subcontractors are paid a total of paid $1.7 million per year, according to the most recent contract agreement signed in February. 

Gephardt Government Affairs has subcontracted some of its work to four other firms, including law firm Greenberg Traurig and Capitol Counsel.

Turkey also has Amsterdam & Partners — which has subcontracted with a half-dozen firms — working on its behalf. Lawyer Robert Amsterdam has been specifically hired to investigate Gülen, and has been publishing op-eds about him, including in The Hill.

"The activities of the Gülen network, including its penetration of the Turkish judiciary and police, as well as its political lobbying abroad, should concern everyone who cares about the future of democracy in Turkey,” Amsterdam told reporters at the National Press Club last October. 

The Turkish government is paying Amsterdam & Partners, a firm based in the United Kingdom, $50,000 per month. It has then contracted with six other firms, including Mercury Public Affairs and McBee Strategic Consulting.

Nearly 70,000 individuals within Turkey have been suspended or dismissed from jobs in the military, judiciary, media, civil service, education and healthcare since the coup attempt. Additionally, an estimated 18,000 people, primarily from the military, have been detained or arrested on suspicion of being involved in the coup. 

On Thursday, a court in Turkey issued a formal warrant for Gülen’s arrest, officially charging him with “ordering the July 15 coup attempt.” There has been no official request for extradition, however, and leaders in Washington have asked for proof that the cleric was directly involved.