Leaked: Erdoğan Bullies Media Boss to Tears
The Turkish Prime Minister forces Milliyet’s owner Erdoğan Demirören to sack his staff, give up his paper’s confidential sources, and drives him to tears in a newly leaked recording.
M Kanadoğlu (AD) : Yet another scandalous wiretap has been leaked on the internet, this one allegedly including a conversation between the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the 75 year old business magnate Erdoğan Demirören. The tape adds additional evidence to the PM’s willingness to bully media bosses into censoring any news which does he does not deem acceptable.
In this case, Erdoğan very strongly, complains about a news story in Demirören’s daily Milliyet newspaper from 28 February 2013, which revealed details of the negotiation process between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and the state.
Erdoğan complains in very harsh terms about the writer and editor who broke the news story, and accuses Demirören, as their boss, of being responsible for the whole affair. The terms he uses for Namık Durukan, who wrote the piece, and Derya Sazak, the paper’s chief editor at the time, are directly translated to English as “honourless”, “wicked”, or “crooked” (ahlaksız, namussuz).
However, in Turkish these terms carry a far heavier connotation, being more akin to “bastard”, or even harsher, and these terms would certainly be fitting in the context of the conversation. Both Durukan and Sazak were fired after this conversation occurred.
This has been a fate shared by a great many media workers deemed as “anti-AKP”. At Milliyet alone, a number of writers, including the well-known journalist Can Dündar have been sacked after taking an anti-government line.
The Prime Minister also threatens Demirören, saying that if this type of story continues to appear in his paper, he will prevent Milliyet journalists from attending his foreign visits. Preventing opposition newspapers from attending official functions is another common tactic of the AKP. Aydınlık Newspaper, for example, is frequently blocked from attending official events held by the AKP.
The Prime Minister demands that Demirören informs him of the identity of the confidential source who leaked the records from İmralı prison that were used in the story. Erdoğan promises that, once he knows who was responsible for the leak, he will “take care of them”, whether they are AKP or Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members.
Demirören, one of the richest men in Turkey and the owner of Milliyet, one of Turkey’s biggest newspapers, feres to Erdoğan in the recording as “boss”. The Prime Minister’s tirade against Demirören is so vehement that, by the end of the recording, the businessman appears to be in tears, questioning how he “got himself into this”.
This tape is the latest in a series documenting the Prime Minister’s rather inappropriate relationship with the media. In one previous tape, he demands that the chief of the Habertürk news channel removes a scrolling banner which he deems offensive. Others showed irregularities in the purchase of the popular Sabah and ATV media organs.
The full transcript of the conversation is included below: Listen to the recording in the video.
Erdoğan Demirören: Have I upset you, boss?
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: I swear, I’m devastated.
ED: When shall we meet?
RTE: Why would we? I mean, such a scandal…
ED: We have to find out who leaked this, so…
RTE: Leave it. I mean, the one who leaked it, leaked it to you already. That is another subject. Is it your newspaper’s job to provoke?
ED: No, could we think of doing such a thing?
RTE: What do you mean? You did it already. You already published this news with that headline.
What do you mean? I do not know which one of your men stooped so low, just to sell a few more [newspapers]. You are still defending them and then asking ‘could we do such a thing.’
ED: I am not. I have been dealing with this all night.
RTE: For God’s sake, the headlines of these newspapers…
ED: I have a request. Just spare me half an hour of your time.
RTE: We have already spared you lots of our half hours. I mean, it is just disgraceful. I am not going to take any of your men on my visits abroad, any more. We always said, let’s take them again. We sat and talked to this guy, Derya, so many times. So did my friends. Now that we have entered a nice process, talking about a resolution process, I mean, we are taking risks. That wicked man, vile man publishes this lie as a headline. He wants to sabotage this process and you are his boss.
ED: Well, what do you want me to do?
RTE: What I want you to do is whatever is necessary to these men. You have to ask them how they can publish such a headline. If one of your employees at your office did such a wicked thing, would you keep him?
ED: We would not.
RTE: You kick him out of the door, right away.
ED: Let me just tell you…
RTE: Look at this: We have taken such a risk, and that headline yesterday… It is not intolerable. I did not call you… [Not clear what he is saying] If you do not call today, …
End of the first phone call
ED: I am going to do what is necessary, Mr Prime Minister.
RTE: Whatever, however you think…
ED: I promised you… [Not clear what he is saying]
RTE: Derya [Sazak] is the first one to hold responsible for this. That wicked man who published the news is responsible. [He means the journalist Namık Durukan who disclosed the recordings from Imralı Prison where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is being held.] And whoever leaked it to him.
ED: I will, hmm…
RTE: If he is well-intentioned he must say who leaked it to him and we can take care of him. If it is somebody from my office, I will take care of him. If it is somebody from BDP [Peace and Democracy Party], we will again take care of him.
ED: I will get you the information of who leaked this by this evening.
ED: Is it ok Mr Prime Minister?
RTE: Okay, okay.
ED: Don’t worry.
RTE: Okay, okay.
ED: Here we go. [He is crying.]
RTE: Okay, have a good day. Hello?
ED: How did I get involved in this? For whom? [He keeps crying.]
RTE: Let’s hope the best, insallah. Have a good day.
ED: Thanks. [He keeps crying.]
RTE: Have a good day.