Hürriyet daily columnist Ertuğrul Özkök wrote on Tuesday that he met and spoke with Yıldırım and reportedly relayed some of Yıldırım’s statements in his article. According to Özkök, Yıldırım said he was angry with Gülen and said, “I am quite determined to fight even if I am alone. These [match-rigging] trials are Turkey’s problems now.” Özkök further said that Yıldırım believes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did everything he could to save him [from prison]. He also said that the Fenerbahçe chairman would hold two or three press conferences in the following days and talk about the police, prosecutors, judges and prison conditions. He said Yıldırım specifically criticized the unfair practices of the police.
However, on Thursday, Yıldırım released a statement on Fenerbahçe’s website and denied all of Özkök’s claims. In the statement, titled “A necessary explanation,” he said: “I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has shown great interest and kindness to me all the while. But nonetheless, I regret to see that some of the statements made during chats with friends were featured without my will and knowledge in some media outlets under the guise of a ‘news report.’ I want it known that during the conversations made during these visits [by friends] no name of any individual or institution was mentioned, and no expression of criticism or praise was uttered. In this regard, I expect the public not to give credit to these types of articles and reports unless I personally state so.”
Yıldırım was released by a local İstanbul court on Monday after spending a year in jail for being implicated in a massive match-fixing scandal. He was sentenced to six years, three months in prison for creating and managing a criminal organization and for rigging several football matches. He will return to prison if the decision is upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The match-fixing investigation concerned claims that club officials and football players rigged games in the Bank Asya 1 League and Spor Toto Super League, which ended in May of last year, with Fenerbahçe winning the trophy.