A message to the Prime Minister
It was those years when journalists were taken from their homes early in the morning, when their private lives were shredded to pieces and thrown into the eyes of the public in newspaper headlines and columns, when cases were opened against them on grounds of “coup plotting” and they were left to being forgotten in Silivri dungeons…
They were the darkest years of the interim regime…
On one morning of that year, we were invited to the office of the specially authorized prosecutor in Beşiktaş. In addition to myself, there were Enis Berberoğlu, Güneri Cıvaoğlu, Fatih Altaylı and others.
We went into a small room. The prosecutor greeted us very kindly. There was also another official taking down the minutes.
They put a file in front of me. There were private phone conversations I had held 15 years ago. That corresponds to the Feb. 28 era…
He said, “We will have you listen to these phone conversations and we will ask you whether or not they belong to you.”
Years ago, a cabinet minister had released my phone conversation recorded illegally; I had to read and listen to these conversations for months on radios, televisions and newspaper headlines. I told them; “Don’t make me listen to them. Let me read them over. I will tell you if they are mine or not.”
* * *
There were three conversations belonging to me.
But there were nothing that could be relevant to a crime. It seemed that those who tapped the telephones did it arbitrarily.
But another recording was put forward that day.
That was the conversation my wife was having with the maid.
She was telling her what she should be buying from the shop.
I was very sad.
I was the target of those tapping the telephones.
But other people were being targeted too.
I told the prosecutor, “If you have any means to reach the prime minister. Tell him; those listening to our spouses, to our friends will one day listen to his relatives, daughters. And one day the recording will come in front of him.”
That was 2011. Three years ago. And today, recordings of his daughters and relatives are in front of the prime minister.
That day we were lucky people.
We were not taken away from our homes in the early hours of the morning.
But I spent the last four years with a luggage at my bedside.
Every day was spent learning to tolerate people who pointed a finger at us; targeted us, campaigned so that we would be sent to jail.
* * *
The work I did and Hürriyet, which I was at the head of, was an institution that all legal and illegal eyes were upon.
For 25 years; at least five state institutions tapped my telephone conversations.
For 20 years I walked around with a security officer that the state provided to me.
Twice I was saved from a bomb attack, only with the help of God.
I lived under numerous threats.
And for 20 years, I have sat in the seat of a former editor in chief who was assassinated.
I lived with his slain ghost.
I was not a courageous man; but they taught me how to live without fearing.
Not one day did I come out and perform a show of victimhood.
I learned everything except one thing.
That other people’s lives being disturbed because of me.
That others are attacked because of me. Others are subject to smear campaigns because of me.
I could never digest that.
* * *
Precisely for this reason when Prime Minister Erdoğan said the other day that there will be serious restrictions brought to telephone tapping; although I am really mad at him; I am supporting him wholeheartedly.
That’s why I am calling on the officials that sit in the seats of the state, which is the only place we can take refuge.
“Be moral and conscientious.”
States can listen because of security reasons. But there is a morality to it.