With their names and photographs accompanying a headline that reads “We are responsible [for the story],” journalists at the Cumhuriyet daily have responded to a threat made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the paper’s editor-in-chief for running a story and photos that provided proof of illegal arms shipments to Syria. report ZAMAN
Speaking during a live broadcast on the state-run TRT Haber news channel on Sunday night, Erdoğan said: “I have filed a lawsuit [against the editor-in-chief]. … And the person who did the exclusive report about it will pay a heavy price for it. I won’t let him go [unpunished].”
The Cumhuriyet article said “We employees at Cumhuriyet assume responsibility along with our editor-in-chief for the story revealing the truth about an incident that was denied by state officials for months.” It is a journalist’s duty to inform the public about the dangers and threats of an arms smuggling incident whose political, legal and diplomatic remifications the public is not aware of, the article added.
In a headline story on Friday, Cumhuriyet published images from a video in the investigation file proving that National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks had carried weapons, contradicting the government’s earlier claim that they were only carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmens in war-torn Syria.
Erdoğan, who claimed the daily’s sole aim in publishing the report on the trucks operated by MİT was to tarnish Turkey’s image, accused the daily of being involved in spying by having published the report.
Dündar also challenged Erdoğan in a message on Twitter on Monday, saying: “The person who committed this crime will pay a heavy price for that. We will not let him go [unpunished],” also maintaining that Erdoğan is the one who is involved in crime by arranging arms-laden trucks to be sent to rebel groups in Syria.
On Jan. 19 of last year, three trucks bound for Syria — which the government admitted were operated by MİT — were intercepted by gendarmes in the southern province of Adana after prosecutors received tip-offs that they were illegally carrying arms to Syria. Shortly after top officials gave statements about the trucks, Syrian Turkmens denied that any such truck had arrived from Turkey.