A video shown at an election campaign rally by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that seems to link main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu to a Kurdish group designated as terrorist has been exposed as fake.
Research by the fact-checking team of German public media outlet DW, in cooperation with DW's Turkish service, concluded that the video presented by Turkey’s leader on May 7 “was manipulated by combining two separate videos with totally different backgrounds and content”, DW reported on May 8.
The findings come four days after Kilicdaroglu, in an interview with KRT television, said the opposition had intelligence that indicated it may be targeted on social media with deepfake video or voice records in the run-up to the May 14 presidential and parliamentary polls.
The video appears to have been manipulated in order to associate Kilicdaroglu with the militant Kurdish organisation Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During the rally, Erdogan addressed the crowd, asking, "Would my national and local citizens vote for these?" He then pointed to a large screen behind him.
The screen showed what appeared to be campaign footage of Kilicdaroglu, with the candidate telling viewers "let's go to the ballot box together".
After a few seconds, Kilicdaroglu disappears off screen. A second person, dressed in a military uniform, then appears. The footage is run as if it is a section of Kilicdaroglu's campaign video.
The second figure in question is Murat Karayilan, one of PKK’s founders.
DW said that the first of the two videos is Kilicdaroglu's original campaign video, which can be viewed in full here, on his verified YouTube channel. It does not contain footage of Karayilan, or the PKK.
The second video, reported DW, appears to be much older footage and it can be found by carrying out an advanced online search of similar images of Karaliyan in military dress.
The video shows the PKK leader talking about what he describes as the start of the PKK's armed struggle over three decades ago, according to the website where it was published — Firat News Agency, a Kurdish outlet.
The article accompanying the video was published on August 15, 2021, said DW.
“In sum, Erdogan presented altered footage which resulted from combining scenes from Kilicdaroglu's campaign video with an older video message by Karayilan, and editing it into one film,” it concluded.
DW noted that the false video did not, however, “appear to be, as several Turkish media argued, a deepfake — a video file created with artificial intelligence.”