A headline cost newspaper Hürriyet, the largest and most authoritative newspaper in Turkey, dearly, following criticism by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and many members of the Turkish government and forcing the owner of the newspaper to replace its director.
The article was by the journalist Hande Firat who on the night of the coup attempt was the one that broadcast Erdogan’s statements live on network television through her mobile and called on the people to take to the streets. But now it seems she is in the Turkish president’s line of fire.
The Istanbul prosecutor has already initiated steps against the newspaper as well as its owner Aydin Dogan. Dogan will be brought to court on another case accused of smuggling fuel.
They feared a coup warning
Last Saturday, the Turkish newspaper published a story entitled “HQ is annoyed,” according to which the government had not consulted the armed forces, prior to lifting the ban on headscarves in the army.
The article quoted the armed forces on other criticism it has been receiving such as the telephone call by the Chief of the Armed Forces to Akit newspaper – which previously attacked the army – as well as describing Akar’s presence at the Imia islets in the Aegean as a “simple excursion”.
However the main problem was the title of the article. It was viewed that it implied that there is a disagreement between the army and the government and that it was a warning from the army directed at Erdogan. It is worth noting that in previous years, it was common practice in politics for prevailing Turkish politicians to warn with titles such as “the new officers are annoyed” and warn the Turkish government of imminent coups.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the article title as “very ugly.” “This story seriously annoyed the Turkish Armed Forces as much as it bothered us.” “Nobody has the right to bring government officials against one another, everyone should know their place. You are disrespectful … Whoever tries to play us against each other will pay a heavy price.”
The Turkish newspaper was forced to publish an announcement almost apologising for the article. “It do not even cross our minds that this title could be perceived that way. Such intention is excluded. The title may be perceived as an error of syntax. We are sorry for that.”
Further to this the owner of the newspaper announced the replacement of the Director Sedat Ergin and in his place appointed columnist Fikret Bila.
Nevertheless the article which caused the Turkish President’s reaction and cites military sources,was by the Editor in Chief of the newspaper’s Ankara office Firat Hadi, whom pro-government media accuse of reviving the threat of a new coup through her article.
The Istanbul prosecutor is conducting an investigation into the newspaper
The Turkish armed forces responded to the newspaper with their own text rejecting the “deliberate and unfounded criticism” but admitted that, as Hurriyet states, they were informed.
Hurriyet’s shares as well as those of the Dogan Group, which is the main shareholder of the newspaper fell by 9%. The newspaper has a daily circulation of 400,000 papers/day.
The owner of the newspaper Aydin Dogan has been asked to testify in the trial of an old case of smuggling fuel from refineries which is owned by his group./IBNA