Wed, Jun 03, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Erdogan threatens paper over Syrian arms video

AFP, ANKARA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened an opposition daily that published footage purportedly showing trucks belonging to a state intelligence service carrying weapons to rebels in Syria, vowing it would pay a “heavy price.”

“The slander against the [Turkish] National Intelligence Organization [MIT] and the illegitimate operation [against MIT trucks] is an espionage activity at one point,” Erdogan told state-run TRT television late on Sunday. “This newspaper was also involved in this espionage activity.”

“The person who made the story will pay a heavy price. I will not let him get away with it,” said the president, who has threatened other news outlets before this week’s parliamentary election.

The footage published on the opposition Cumhuriyet daily’s Web site on Friday shows inspectors searching a metallic container watched by security officers, a prosecutor and sniffer dogs.

The daily said the trucks carried mortar shells, ammunition and hundreds of grenade launchers hidden under boxes of antibiotics marked as “fragile.”

Turkish prosecutors swiftly opened an investigation into the daily on charges of “obtaining information on state security,” “political and military espionage” and “propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dundar hit back at Erdogan, tweeting: “We are not civil servants, but journalists. Our duty is not to hide the state’s dirty secrets, but to call it to account in the name of people.”

“The person who committed this crime will pay a heavy price,” he added, referring to Erdogan. “We will not let him get away with it.”

Turkey has denied aiding militants in Syria including the Islamic State group, saying the intercepted aid was bound for the Turkmen minority in Syria.

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