Erdoğan Demirören, owner of the Demirören Holding, bought the dailies Vatan and Milliyet in 2012.
A fresh recording of an alleged conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and a media boss was leaked onto the Internet on March 6, apparently featuring the owner of daily Milliyet being reduced to tears by Erdoğan’s harsh rebuke.
In the conversation, the prime minister chides Milliyet owner Erdoğan Demirören over the newspaper’s publication of a document detailing the minutes of a meeting between Öcalan and three deputies from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) during their meeting at İmralı Island prison last year.
Daily Milliyet's owner is then heard crying at the end of a second phone conversation, asking “Why did I enter this business” through tears.
Erdoğan had made very harsh public statements over the leaked story last March, accusing the daily of aiming to disrupt the Kurdish peace process, which was in its early phases.
“If that’s how you are doing your journalism, shame on you!” he notoriously said at the time.
According to the latest leak, Erdoğan threatened to exclude journalists from Milliyet and Vatan, the two dailies owned by Demirören’s media group, from his official jet unless the individual who reported the story revealed its source. He also told him that he should monitor headline stories “more closely.”
In the conversation, Erdoğan said the settlement process was a very delicate issue and that media outlets are expected to show the utmost attention to avoid feeding opposition to the government’s initiative.
At the end of the conversation, Demirören promises to give the name of the person who leaked the document.
Following the publication of the leaked story, Milliyet refused to publish veteran journalist
Hasan Cemal’s column. Cemal, known for his experience on the Kurdish issue, ended up quitting the daily soon after, causing a huge stir.
The newspaper’s then editor-in-chief Derya Sazak remained at the helm of the newspaper until the end of July, before being replaced by Ankara
bureau chief Fikret Bila.