Turkish Interior Ministry threatens journalist for reporting gov't scheme

Turkish journalist Barış Terkoğlu was threatened by the Interior Ministry shortly after he reported the government and ally companies' arbitrary construction schemes to generate profit in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul on July 13.

Duvar English

Cumhuriyet daily columnist and journalist Barış Terkoğlu was targeted by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's adviser Burak Gültekin for reporting on a scheme between the state and ally companies to generate profit via construction in Istanbul's Esenyurt district on July 12. 

The construction in Esenyurt is an explicit model of feeding politics and politicians by creating a residential district in Istanbul and drowning it in concrete to allow the emergence of holdings, Terkoğlu said in his article in question. 

"24 HOURS' TIME. You said in your research that there were two Özyurt companies in Esenyurt and that these were connected to our respectable minister. You have 24 HOURS to reveal our minister's ties to these companies as you implied in your article," Gültekin said in a tweet targeting the journalist.

The adviser also implied that the ministry had tailed Terkoğlu by giving the initials E.O. for an alleged contact, adding that they would sue the journalist for emotional damages.

"You can talk to members of the country you are connected to," the adviser also said, implying that the journalist was somehow externally funded. "Your 24 hours start now."

Terkoğlu responded to the adviser's threats in a July 13 article by saying that he doesn't care about "24-hour hourglasses, the targets they put on my back and their threats."

"There are two types of journalists according to the interior minister: Acceptable ones and unacceptable ones. I'm in the second category," Terkoğlu said. 

The interior minister has previously targeted the journalist, he noted, adding that Soylu had removed police escorts assigned to him after he was targeted by terrorist organizations. 

"I know that people wearing state uniforms at the Interior Ministry are conducting 'special operations' about 'unacceptable' journalists," Terkoğlu said. "I'm included in this group. I just pretend they don't exist."

The threat by Soylu's adviser was written with the go-ahead of the interior minister, Terkoğlu said, adding that he was pleasantly surprised to see the state official released the threats on his own social media accounts instead of through trolls' profiles.

The companies Terkoğlu connected to Soylu promote the minister's visit to their offices at the top of their website, the journalist said, adding that mutual acquaintances of the two entities should reveal what they know to fully display the connections. 

"There's a red cross on my door, but I hold my head high," Terkoğlu said. "Those who use the state's stewardship for their own benefit should bring it on."

Gültekin said on July 13 that the 24 hours he gave Terkoğlu had elapsed and that the journalist had "failed" to provide evidence of his reporting.

The adviser accused Terkoğlu of being a journalist who serves others' agendas rather than reporting facts and said that he had filthied the profession of journalism to this end.