Doğan did not meet Weizsaecker, says his lawyer

Doğan did not meet Weizsaecker, says his lawyer

Doğan Holding Honorary Chairman Aydın Doğan did not meet former German President Richard von Weizsaecker despite a recent claim by a former member of the European Parliament (MEP), his lawyer has said.

Ozan Ceyhun, a former MEP, had claimed during a program on German television on Dec. 22 that Weizsaecker threatened Doğan after he called him by saying, “Daily Hürriyet [a part of the Doğan Group] cannot be published in Germany if it continues with its current editorial policy.” Ceyhun’s claim was reported by Turkish daily Sabah the following day in an article titled “[Doğan] felt obliged to visit German president to receive instructions.”

Şehnaz Doğan Yüzer, Doğan’s lawyer, refuted the claim with a seven-point statement:

1) A report published by daily Sabah on Dec. 23, 2014 and quoted former MEP Ceyhun’s claim that “[Doğan] felt obliged to visit German president to get instructions” was an utterly baseless and malicious accusation against my client Mr. Aydın Doğan.

2) Ceyhun had made these claims for the first time on air during a program on [Turkish television] AHaber on the evening of Dec. 8. My client immediately contacted the program as it continued to make the necessary correction on air. However, the television’s director refused this request after a one-hour long attempt, saying it was “against their principles to make a phone connection during a live program.”

3) In contrary to what was claimed in the report, my client has never met former German President Richard Von Weizsaecker. [Doğan] was not the owner of Hürriyet when Weizsaecker was president. Only a slanderer can make up such lies and fraudulence.

4) My client became the owner of Hürriyet’s Turkey edition in June 1994. He took over its Germany edition in 2000. He instituted Hürriyet Germany facilities to make the publication stronger. The inauguration ceremony of these facilities in Frankfurt in July 2002 was attended by Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, now president, then the chair of AK Parti [Justice and Development Party]. Then deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz, Foreign Minister İsmail Cem, DYP chair Tansu Çiller and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] representative Tunca Toskay, a state minister, had also attended the same ceremony.

5) My client had visited then German President Mr. Johannes Rau in June 2001, a year before the inauguration. During this visit, a project to publish a German-language page in Hürriyet’s Germany edition was explained to Rau, who responded by subscribing to Hürriyet as a symbolic gesture. Hürriyet’s Germany edition has been in constant renewal since its inception both regarding its form and its content. However, its purpose has never changed. That purpose is to preserve the bonds of our citizens who live and work abroad with their home country, informing them particularly about the rights-based policies of the country they live in and supporting their harmony and integration, while opposing attempts to assimilate them.

6) We do not know with what purpose Ceyhun puts such baseless, fraudulent claims and lies forward. If the purpose is to give a message to certain people, it is clear that the related newspapers received the message well and abused it without even bothering to seek the truth. My client had put up a struggle and will do so to keep an objective publishing policy with international standards, despite the fact that he has faced several accusations in over a 36 year-long career in the publication business at the risk of paying a heavy price, both in material and non-pecuniary ways.

7) As a senior publisher, Mr. Doğan feels sadness and shame for witnessing such an era that the profession of journalism has been as corrupt as now; it is divided into camps of friends and foes, aggression has increased and defamation, as well as lies, are considered legitimate.