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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

Published: Thu 18 Sep 2008 10:49 AM
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2008
In Today's Papers
German Court Convicts Deniz Feneri Suspects
All media outlets report three suspects working for the
Germany-based, Islamist-oriented Deniz Feneri charity have been
convicted by the Frankfurt Regional Court for fraud and embezzlement
of charity funds. Mehmet Gurhan, chairman of the charity until
November 2006, was sentenced to 5 years 10 months in prison. Mehmet
Taskan, the chairman of the organization after Gurhan, received 2
years 9 months. Firdevsi Ermis, the charity's accountant, got a
sentence of a one year 10 months. The convicted suspects, who had
made plea bargained their sentences, said they would not appeal the
ruling. German judge Johann Muller said the charity, set up in
Germany in 1999, collected donations totaling 41.4 million Euros
between 2002 and 2007. Muller said 16.9 million Euro of the
donations were transferred to Turkey to support the
Islamist-oriented Kanal 7 Television and that the decisions over
spending charity funds were made by Zekeriya Karaman, Ismail Karahan
(Kanal 7 advertisement manager), Mustafa Celik (Kanal 7 shareholder
and chief editor of the channel,) and Zahid Akman (chair of Turkey's
radio and television board, RTUK). He said the Turkish government
declined German support in the investigation. Muller also said the
Deniz Feneri charities in Germany and Turkey worked together.
Mainstream Hurriyet, Vatan and the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
quote judge Muller as saying, "Deniz Feneri organizations in Germany
and Turkey were founded with the same system. Behind the scenes are
Zekeriya Karaman, Ismail Karahan, Mustafa Celik, and Zahid Akman.
The real perpetrators are in Turkey."
Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said Turkey would give no backing
to the criminals, and that Turkish prosecutors were expected to act
on the irregularities. Opposition deputy group chief Kemal Anadol
said the AKP should prosecute the Turkish suspects responsible for
the irregularities in the Deniz Feneri charity. CHP secretary
general Mustafa Ozyurek warned that prosecutors and judges in Turkey
should be allowed to probe the matter without interference from the
ruling AKP government.
Akman Accused of Fraud in Separate Case in Germany
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and mainstream Hurriyet report the
Frankfurt prosecutor's office has launched a separate investigation
of Turkey's radio and television board, RTUK Chair, Zahid Akman over
fraud in a Frankfurt housing society founded by Akman and 18 other
partners. The housing company, OFWG, took money from over 1,000
Turks living in Germany, pledging to give them cheap houses. The
participants in the building society never got their houses, and
their money was never put into the bank account of the society.
Shortly afterwards, OFWG declared bankruptcy. The prosecutor
accuses Akman of fraud and embezzlement, and underlines that Akman's
"partners" were convicted in the Deniz Feneri case, report papers.
Editorial Commentary on Deniz Feneri Germany Case and Turkey
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "The Deniz
Feneri investigation, as the judge put it, was the biggest fraud
case in Germany's history. Turkey cannot afford to ignore such a
shame, and it should not. Turkey must follow the Deniz Feneri case
with a comprehensive investigation of its in-Turkey links. The
Turkish government and judiciary must consider this an obligation.
Otherwise, it will not be easy for the AKP to come out of this
cleanly."
Yasin Dogan wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak: "The Deniz Feneri
verdict in Germany should be taken seriously but it also has to be
considered as individual crimes. Whoever does wrong deserves to be
blamed, however, that does not mean defaming a certain group or
institution. The Deniz Feneri debate has other dimensions such as:
a Germany which is hostile and skeptical about Turkish foundations
in Germany; the Dogan Media Group who is coordinating with CHP; and
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some international NGOs who question the efficiency of Turkish
foundations during international disasters."
Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan: "The German judiciary
fulfilled its responsibilities and concluded the Deniz Feneri case.
Now, it is time to find the main suspects of this case in Turkey.
However, PM Erdogan's recent attitude shows that he is not very
willing to capture the real criminals in Turkey. He has been
accusing the media of rushing into things and urging them angrily to
wait for the verdict. Well, now the case has concluded and has
shown that we did not rush into things. The government, using
political immunity as an excuse, has turned the parliament into a
shelter for criminals. We all are waiting for the "clean hands"
operation to start soon."
Cuneyt Arcayurek writes in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet:
"Donations raised by the Deniz Feneri charity in Germany were
carried to Turkey by Zahid Akman to be used for political aims.
Deniz Feneri was set up in Turkey to cover such irregularities and
was granted by the AKP the status of an organization working for
public good. The organization has strong support by the ruling AKP.
Former Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc even gave them the Ataturk
award. PM Erdogan, who should be held accountable, declines doing
so. Zekeriya Karaman is free, and Zahid Akman doesn't even think of
resigning from his post at RTUK."
The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) Letter to PM Erdogan
Mainstream Milliyet reports that WAN sent a letter to PM Erdogan
urging him to withdraw his threats towards the Dogan Media Group and
to reiterate his commitment to the press freedom.
General Basbug Meets with TV Representatives
All papers report that TGS Chief General Basbug met with Ankara reps
of TV channels and news agencies yesterday. Mainstream Sabah
reports that during the meeting General Basbug requested the media
members not call him "commander" or "Ilker Pasha" (a traditional
honorific for Turkish Generals), but just to use his family name,
"Basbug." General Basbug gave the same messages to the TVs that he
gave to newspapers the previous day. Regarding the military's visit
to the two retired Generals incarcerated in Kandira prison in
connection with the Ergenekon investigation, Basbug said "necessary
permission was obtained from the relevant offices. I did not ask
for permission from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister heard
the news from the TVs."
Phone Conversation Links Ergenekon with US Consulate Attack
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that Erhan Kargin, one of the
assailants killed in the attack, had phone conversations with the
Ergenekon suspects. This reveals that the attack on the Consulate
was instigated by Ergenekon suspects and their aim was to create
political chaos in Turkey, notes Zaman. The paper adds that the
suspects who were in touch with Erhan Kargin were linked to the
nationalist association Kuvayi Milliye while, at the same time
trying to infiltrate to Islamic Ismail aga sect in Istanbul. This
infiltration attempt was explained in detail in the Ergenekon
indictment prepared by prosecutor Zekeriya Oz.
Ergenekon Suspect Retired General Eruygur Hospitalized
Sabah, Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Vatan, Hurriyet, Milliyet and others:
Today's papers report that retired General Eruygur was hospitalized
yesterday after falling and suffering a brain hemorrhage yesterday.
He was transferred to Kocaeli University hospital from the high
security Kandira prison yesterday. Hospitial officials said that
"Eruygur fell because of his hypertension and suffered a head
trauma. Eruygur doesn't have a life threatening condition, but
remains in critical condition." Zaman reports that Eruygur suffered
from a neck fracture as well. Sabah reports that TGS Chief General
Basbug, during his meeting with journalists, signaled that Eruygur
could be transferred to the military hospital GATA if necessary.
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State-Owned AIG
Media continues to cover the global economic meltdown and mainly
comment on its potential impact on the Turkish economy. In
mainstream Hurriyet, Erdal Saglam reminds readers about the upcoming
Turkish local elections and warns: "The AKP government's economic
choice is vitally important. If the Turkish economy gets very bad,
the government will be responsible for it, not the current global
crisis." Papers highlight the U.S. government's effort to save AIG
from the current crisis by becoming a shareholder. Radikal says
"AIG is now a state-owned company" while Islamist Yeni Safak fronts
"U.S. has become the Turkey of 2000 crisis and started owning the
companies." Cumhuriyet front page story reads: "The American System
is Cracking" adding that economic crisis since last July has led to
the demise of three investment banking firms, and there are only two
left now.
Editorial Commentary on Global Economic Meltdown
Erdal Saglam wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "In the very near future
as the global economic crisis begins to effect Turkey deeply, the
AKP government will have to make a choice. The current fight with
one of the media groups indicates the government's determination to
do anything and everything to increase its votes through populism.
Thus the AKP's economic choice is vitally important. In other
words, if the Turkish economy goes very bad the government will be
responsible for it, not the current global crisis."
Attack on U.S. Embassy in Yemen
Media coverage of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen
dominates international news coverage. Many outlets note the U.S.
is a repeat target in Yemen and note that "Yemeni Islami Jihad"
claimed responsibility. Mainstream Hurriyet carries the headline,
"First a Bomb, and then a Rocket," as "Islamist Jihad has claimed
responsibility for the attack," which marks, "the eighth attack,
including the July attack against the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul,
against a U.S. diplomatic mission over the last five years."
Mainstream Milliyet writes, "The attack reminds one of the July
attack against the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul," but notes, "the U.S.
sees the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda" in the Yemen attack yesterday.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes, "In Yemen, the Target is Once
Again the U.S." and points out, "this is the second time in six
months that Islamist militants have targeted the U.S. Embassy in
Yemen even though the Embassy compound is protected like a castle."
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "In Yemen, the U.S. Embassy is
Attacked Again." Leftist Taraf reports, "The U.S. is Targeted for a
Second Time in Yemen." Cumhuriyet notes that Yemeni officials have
determined that Al-Qaeda is behind this attack. Milliyet also
carries a list of terrorist attacks against the U.S. in Yemen since
2000.
TV News:
NTV
Domestic News
- Turkish stock exchange index, affected by the global meltdown,
dives to its lowest level in 2008.
- The Turkish Parliament will launch the new legislative year on
October 1.
- President Abdullah Gul will travel to Germany October 14 for the
opening of International Book Fair in Frankfurt.
International News
- Suicide bombers blew up a car outside the gate of the U.S. Embassy
in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, killing 16 people and six assailants.
- Syria's Foreign Ministry said indirect talks between Syria and
Israel have been postponed at the Israeli's request.
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- Russia's Foreign Ministry condemns the NATO chief's visit to
Georgia, saying it showed "Cold War reflexes" and will further
destabilize the region.
WILSON
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