Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the absurd accusations that were levelled against it this week in articles in two conservative Turkish newspapers, Star and Yeni Akit.
Two articles in the 28 January issue of Star accused Reporters Without Borders and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists of being influenced by the MLKP, a Marxist-Leninist armed group, and of financing some of the MLKP’s alleged members.
Carrying Zafer Kütük’s by-line, the articles were headlined “They really know no borders” and “The ‘Without Borders’ guide in Turkey is a terrorism convict.” Yeni Akit published a similar article by Yener Dönmez the same day that was headlined “RWB provides financial support to MLKP.”
“The allegations made against us by Star and Yeni Akit are not only completely baseless but also grave, disgraceful and absurd,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Insinuating that RWB is linked to terrorist organizations is a violation of the most elementary truth and honesty.
“Such slanderous methods are typical of the most idiotic and wicked propaganda. They suggest a veiled threat to our local associates and sadly recall behaviour that should have been a thing of the past. In view of the precedents, we are taking this seriously and we will be on the alert to see what follows.
“In fact, we are proud that Yeni Akit is going after us in the same way that it goes after intellectuals who are well known for their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue and reconciliation with the Armenian community. We are also proud of the protest that we carried out at Saint-Lazare station in Paris in 2002, for which we are criticized by Yeni Akit, and we are proud of campaigning for the release of Ahmet Sik, Nedim Sener and OdaTV’s journalists, one of whom is still detained.”
Reporters Without Borders will now rebut the allegations point by point.
• “Strong criticism of Turkey by CPJ and RWB is the result of lobbying by illegal terrorist organizations” – FALSE
Reporters Without Borders’ findings and recommendations are based on the constant monitoring and analysis that it has been doing since 1985. Its public positions are determined by its International Secretariat in Paris in a manner that is completely independent of any outside pressure.
Reporters Without Borders has no “hidden agenda” nor any political, religious or partisan affiliation. It has defended freedom of information in Turkey in a consistent manner regardless of the government in place, from the military regime until the present Justice and Development Party administration. RWB is transparent about its sources of funding and work methods.
In recent years, RWB has thoroughly investigated the grave deterioration in the situation of freedom of information in Turkey. As a result of the constant work of its representative in Turkey and frequent visits by representatives of its International Secretariat, it has been able to document this situation by interviewing journalists, experts of all kinds and officials and by examining legislation and court documents.
On the basis of this research, RWB was able, inter alia, to publish its report entitled “A book is not a bomb” in June 2011 and update its “press freedom barometer” in December 2012. As a result of its thorough research and on the basis of very specific criteria (identified here), RWB concluded that Turkey is currently the “world’s biggest prison for journalists.”
• “RWB’s representative in Turkey is a convicted MLKP member” – FALSE
RWB’s sole representative in Turkey is Erol Önderoglu, the former head of the human right web portal Bianet. He is an internationally renowned journalist whose work is recognized in Turkey and abroad for its quality and impartiality. He has never been convicted of MLKP membership. Reporters Without Borders condemns the attempts to put pressure on Önderoglu, who has its unwavering support.
• “Necati Abay is a member of RWB, which pays him a monthly salary” – FALSE
Necati Abay, a former journalist of the newspaper Atilim, was portrayed as “RWB’s representative in Turkey” and “the guide of international organizations” in Turkey. In fact, he has absolutely no role within RWB and, as the spokesman of the Platform of Solidarity with Arrested Journalists (a Turkish group with no links to RWB), he has criticized RWB on several occasions.
Like any association, RWB has members who pay an annual membership fee and are given information about its activities. Like more than 3,500 other people worldwide, including a growing number of Turkish citizens, Abay became an RWB member. But his decision to join RWB in October 2012 did not confer on him any responsibility within the organization.
What is the origin of the allegation that RWB “pays a monthly salary to Necati Abay and financially supports” other journalists accused of being MLKP members, such as Nadiye Gürbüz, Sedat Senoglu and Arzu Demir? This claim has no basis in fact. RWB has never paid a penny to these journalists, who have a right to be presumed innocent. A tendency to treat critics as “terrorists” is unfortunately one of the major faults of the Turkish judicial system.
RWB expresses its support for its CPJ colleagues and, under its right or response, calls on Star and Yeni Akit to publish this denial.
Read CPJ answer to Star and Yeni Akit