Turkish PM calls Cumhuriyet report 'espionage against Turkey'

Turkish PM calls Cumhuriyet report 'espionage against Turkey'

Turkish PM calls Cumhuriyet report espionage against Turkey

AA photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has labeled a report on intelligence trucks bound for Syria, which lead to the imprisonment of two daily Cumhuriyet journalists before they were recently released upon a Constitutional Court decision, as espionage against the state, not a part of freedom of expression, as the political debate on the matter heats up further.

“There is an issue of espionage in the [Cumhuriyet] National Intelligence Agency [MİT] reports. Literally, the subject is about aid materials sent to Bayırbucak Türkmens, not about the two journalists expressing their opinion,” the prime minister said during a joint press conference on March 2 with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Ömer Kalyoncu.  

Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül were released early on Feb. 26 after 92 days in Silivri Prison near Istanbul following a top court decision which said their rights had been abused. 

“There is clearly an issue of an activity [carried out] against the Republic of Turkey. They published documents, which were meant to be secret and revived the issue. They can criticize our policy but if the security of the state is the issue, no matter what country one is in, the privacy of the operation is guaranteed. The aims of those who gave the documents to them are obvious,” Davutoğlu said, adding it was wrong to reflect the case as one regarding press freedom.

Davutoğlu also said one could not apply to the Constitutional Court before the legal process was complete, adding the whole legal process cannot be tied only to the Constitutional Court.

His remarks came after contradictory messages from the government and the presidency. 

The debate started when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “I don’t concur with the decision and I have no respect for it,” regarding the top court’s ruling. Top court chairman Zühtü Arslan responded by saying the court’s decisions were “binding for everyone.”

The court also released a written statement later on March 1, defending the decision. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş had said the remarks Erdoğan made over the Constitutional Court ruling reflected Erdoğan’s personal view. 

However, a key advisor for the president criticized him on March 2, saying the president’s statement had not been personal, but rather made as the head of state.

“The fact that our president criticized the Constitutional Court decision is not ‘putting up a personal position’ but a statement in the capacity of ‘the head of the state,” Mustafa Akış said in a tweet.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also harshly criticized Erdoğan for not respecting the top court.