Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) member İlyas Haliloğlu has been appointed as a counselor to the Turkish Space Agency, daily Birgün reported on Jan. 27.
Haliloğlu had previously linked the cause of aftershocks in the aftermath of an earthquake in the eastern province of Van on Sept. 21, 2013 to people “not being thankful to [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Haliloğlu holds a degree in “vegetable production techniques” and economics.
He stood as a nominee candidate for the Erciş mayorship from the ruling AKP in 2014 and for a parliamentary seat in 2015. He also previously served as an adviser for an AKP lawmaker.
The appointment of Haliloğlu to the Turkish Space Agency was signed by Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank.
After the appointment caused a widespread reaction, the Turkish Space Agency released a statement on Jan. 27, saying that Haliloğlu will be responsible for not handling “technical” issues but rather “administrative works.”
The agency described the criticism of the appointment as “ill-intentioned” and argued that the release of the news “was trying to damage the institution.”
Kurumumuzu yıpratmaya yönelik art niyetli yayınlara ilişkin açıklamadır. pic.twitter.com/0GgHvWUIyo— Türkiye Uzay Ajansı (@tuajans) January 27, 2022
The government founded the Turkish Space Agency in 2018, with an eye to becoming a top player in global space technology.
The agency has currently no building of its own and is located at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).