Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief to ‘pay heavy price,’ says Turkish president

Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief to ‘pay heavy price,’ says Turkish president

Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief to ‘pay heavy price,’ says Turkish president Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly and personally threatened the editor-in-chief of a daily which published video footage that it said showed security forces discovering weapons being sent to Syria on trucks belonging to the state intelligence agency.

“This slander and this illegitimate operation against the National Intelligence Organization [MİT] are, in a way, an act of espionage. This newspaper got involved in this espionage activity, too,” Erdoğan said during an interview on public broadcaster TRT late on May 31.

The footage, which was released May 29, shows gendarmerie and police officers opening crates on the back of the trucks which contain what daily Cumhuriyet described as weapons and ammunition. Cumhuriyet said the video was from Jan. 19, 2014, but did not say how it had obtained the footage.

Erdoğan reiterated that the trucks stopped that day belonged to MİT and were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria. He suggested that the numbers of weapons included in Cumhuriyet’s report were provided by what he calls a “parallel state” run by his political enemies and bent on discrediting the government. 

“I also filed a lawsuit. What only matters to them is casting a shadow on Turkey’s image. I suppose the person who wrote this as an exclusive report will pay a heavy price for this,” Erdoğan said, in an apparent reference to Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, who had a byline on the report. 

“I will not leave go of him,” Erdoğan threatened.

Dündar responded to Erdoğan by adapting his words in a tweet early June 1. "The person who committed this crime will pay a heavy price. We will not let go of him," Dündar said while sharing the Cumhuriyet story reporting Erdoğan's criticism targeting himself.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu slammed daily Cumhuriyet which announced a series of interviews with one of the commanders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Look at the dailies of today. You can see the trap,” Davutoğlu said on June 1 addressing an election campaign rally in Kırıkkale. 

“A daily, which makes itself look like a newspaper established by Atatürk, which reveals [intelligence organization] MİT’s trucks, which aids spying acts, has made an interview with Kandil while threatening us,” Davutoğlu said, referring to where PKK leaders reside in northern Iraq.