Turkey's presidential spokesperson slams NYT article on operation targeting PKK chief

Turkey's presidential spokesperson slams NYT article on operation targeting PKK chief

ANKARA

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın Aug. 18 called an article by the New York Times about the Turkish airstrike targeting a chief of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) "a blatant attempt to justify and whitewash PKK terrorism."

İsmail Özden, a senior figure of the PKK, was killed in a joint operation by the Turkish military and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) backed by unmanned aerial vehicles in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Aug. 15.

The NYT published an article about the airstrike on Aug. 17, describing Özden as "a hero to the Yazidi minority group in northern Iraq because he helped when they were threatened by ISIS," referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

"This is not journalism. This is a blatant attempt by @nytimes to justify and whitewash PKK terrorism. By the same logic, [Osama] Bin Laden was a ‘hero’ to some?! Would you call [Slobodan] Milosevic and [Ratko] Mladic also ‘heros’ to some people?!" Kalın responded on Twitter on Aug. 18.

Turkish authorities say Özden, 66, was actively operating in Europe from 1992 to 1996. Arrested in Germany for “being a PKK member” and “attacking workplaces of Turkish people” in 1996, Özden was released in 1998. In 2018, he began spearheading PKK activities in Iraq's Sinjar, according to Turkish officials, where he led the PKK’s illegal drug and arms trafficking in the region.

The airstrike targeting Özden was named after Bedirhan Mustafa Karakaya, an 11-month baby who was killed in a PKK bomb attack on July 31.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

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