Cumhuriyet newspaper staff and writers have published a declaration in reaction to President Tayyip Erdoğan’s words, “This newspaper too is now part of the spying scheme. The person who wrote this report will pay dearly for it, he won’t get away with it so easily,” targeting their Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar after their newspaper published a report on a delivery of Syria-bound arms in MİT [National Intelligence Service] trucks.
“The job of a newspaper and a journalist is to inform the reader, and warn the public of dangers and threats,” stated the declaration, adding, “We take full responsibility for this news report along with our editor-in-chief Can Dündar. We declare that President Erdoğan’s words; ‘The person who wrote this report will pay dearly for it’ bind us all. Each one of us declares, ‘I am responsible’”.
The full statement signed by Cumhuriyet staff and writers is as follows:
“Weapons and ammunition in such high quantities that if they were to explode would destroy an entire city were loaded on trucks and sent to one of the sides in the war in neighbouring Syria. The parliament, administrative authorities and the people of the country were unaware of this. The AKP government, which sent the delivery, persistently denied the existence of weapons and ammunition in the trucks. Military authorities that revealed the delivery, and the prosecutors that carried out the investigation were relieved of duty and arrested.
The people of this country did not know the risks they faced. They were not informed about the vital, political, legal and diplomatic consequences of this delivery.
The job of a newspaper and a journalist is to inform the reader, and warn the public of dangers and threats.
Aware of this responsibility, Cumhuriyet published footage and photographs revealing the truth that has been denied for a long time.
We, the staff and writers who have signed below, take full responsibility for this news report along with our Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar.
We declare that President Erdoğan’s words; ‘The person who wrote this report will pay dearly for it’ bind us all. Each one of us declares, ‘I am responsible’”.
Each one of us declares, ‘I am responsible’”.
CPJ calls for Erdoğan to stop bullying journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also made a statement condemning Erdoğan ’s threat.
Nina Ognianova, Coordinator of the Europe and Central Asia Program of CPJ, said in a statement, “We call on Erdoğan to stop bullying journalists and news outlets such as Can Dündar and Cumhuriyet just because he doesn’t like what they report.”
Ognianova added that a broadcast ban was brought against the footage and images Cumhuriyet published, and that other news outlets had been threatened with prosecution within the scope of terror crimes if they were to re-publish them.
Ognianova said that Erdoğan’s statements often led to prosecutors filing investigations against journalists that criticized the government. Ognianova stated that Erdoğan had displayed an anti-press attitude both during his term as Prime Minister, and now as President, adding that the pressure on the press also led to self-censorship. Ognianova commented that journalists facing dismissal hesitated to express their views on sensitive issues.