Demirören reporter reveals media boss obstructed news coverage on fatal car crash

Demirören News Agency reporter Rojda Altıntaş has revealed that she was pressured by her employer to postpone and censor the news article on the fatal car crash that shook Turkey, due to the reported involvement of Demirören’s son in the accident. 

Mother Eylem Tok and 17-year-old driver son T.C. take a taxi in NYC after fleeing Turkey over the fatal accident

Duvar English

Turkish pro-government media organization Demirören News Agency (DHA) reporter Rojda Altıntaş on May 6 revealed that her employer asked her to omit details from and postpone releasing the article about the controversial car accident that killed one.

An anonymous X account on May 5 shared phone call recordings between Altıntaş and a man who introduces himself as İlker, the Demirören family’s driver.

The driver is heard asking the reporter not to publish the article on the accident just yet, as Cemal (the underaged driver) and Demirören’s youngest son were “childhood friends.”

“Don’t publish it today, Mr. or Mrs. Demirören will contact you tomorrow,” the driver requests. 

Upon calling the number back to corroborate the caller's identity, Altıntaş had a brief video call with Revna Demirören, the wife of the media boss. 

The media agency then published the article with no details regarding the underage driver, despite Altıntaş being the first reporter to access the story.

The account stated that if the Demirören family had allowed the story to be published in full on the night of the accident, driver T.C. and mother Eylem Tok would not have had time to flee Turkey. 

“The Demirören family allowed Eylem Tok to escape to the US just because their son was also in the car,” the account wrote.   

Following the social media post that revealed the recording along with a timeline of events, Altıntaş published a personal note saying she was behind the account that shared the recordings. 

“I stayed silent for eight months because I feared for the safety of myself and my family,” she stated.

Altıntaş continued, “I apologize for being late, but I can rest now at the risk of being unemployed.” 

The DHA General Director Celal Korkut on May 6 published a response to Altıntaş through the agency’s official social media account, saying the agency “did not and would not take any action against the reporter.” 

According to the director, there was nothing for Altıntaş to be afraid of and would have taken the necessary steps together if she had revealed the voice recordings to the director.

Altıntaş nevertheless maintained that the DHA was aware of everything from the very beginning, and she would not return to work. 

What happened?

The accident occurred in the late hours of March 1 in Istanbul, when underage and licenceless driver T.C. crashed into a group of ATV drivers who had stopped in the emergency lane, as one of their vehicles broke down.  

The five victims were hospitalized as bypassers found them. 29-year-old Oğuz Murat Aci died in hospital. 

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office found that T.C.’s mother Eylem Tok arrived at the scene and ran away with the driver before law enforcement arrived.  

Lawyers of the victims alleged that Tok also removed the phones of the unconscious victims to prevent them from contacting authorities. 

Security camera footage showing the two going through customs at Istanbul Airport for Egypt hours after the accident sparked outrage. 

Before leaving for the US, Tok on March 5 released a statement from Egypt and said she acted upon “motherly instinct” when helping his son escape the country.    

The mother and son were later seen in New York City taking a taxi. 

Turkey’s Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç stated that an extradition process with the US was initiated for 17-year-old T.C. and his mother Eylem Tok. 

Some media outlets had suggested the youngest Demirören son was involved in the accident, which was why the news agency had not reported on the incident in detail. 

The family had refused all claims, stating their son was abroad at the time of the accident. 

Pro-government Demirören in 2018 paid $916 million for Hürriyet newspaper, broadcaster CNN Türk and other assets from Doğan Holding. The deal shifted the mainstream media overwhelmingly behind President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.