Journalist Yagmur: December 17 probe taught me not to give up

Yagmur was briefly detained in November and later released as part of an investigation into the reporting of the trucks full of weapons and ammunition sent by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to radical factions in Syria.

Yagmur said he became a target of pro-government circles after the Dec. 17 graft probe, which included the sons of four Cabinet ministers in then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government as well as Erdogan’s family members, was revealed. The charges ranged from engaging in acts of corruption and bribery to transferring gold to Iran in order to undermine a US-led sanction.

Underlining that he was accused of things ranging from being an Israeli Mossad agent to being a member of the terrorist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), Fatih said that one night recently, he was receiving so many death threats over the phone that he thought he would not make it to the next day.

Yagmur told Today’s Zaman that his phone records were published on social media platforms such as Twitter and added that mobile phone SIM cards were purchased using his ID.

He said that he was told by sources that spy-chief Hakan Fidan had briefed then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Yagmur’s exposés, and that Erdogan had then pressured Yagmur’s boss at the Radikal daily to fire him.

Despite all that happened, he still does not want to stray from journalism. “After everything that happens you fear nothing. I found an extraordinary amount of courage due to their oppression,” he said.

Early in 2014, an anonymous tip led to the interception of a number of trucks on the suspicion of weapons smuggling. The first operation took place in Hatay province on Jan. 1, 2014. Another anonymous tip led to three more trucks being stopped and searched in Turkey’s southern Adana province on Jan. 19, 2014.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently unwittingly validated claims made by critics that the Turkish government was sending weapon-filled trucks to radical groups in Syria by sarcastically asking, “So what if the MİT trucks were filled with weapons?”

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials called the 2014 investigation into the MİT trucks carrying weapons “treason and espionage” on the part of the prosecutors as the trucks were said to be transporting “humanitarian aid” to the Bayır-Bucak Turkmens.

Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, said during a television program immediately after the interception of the trucks became public knowledge that the trucks were carrying aid supplies to Turkmens in Syria.

Many high-level Turkish officials, including then-President Abdullah Gul, said the trucks’ cargo was a “state secret,” which led some to speculate that the trucks were carrying arms. However, Syrian-Turkmen Assembly Vice Chairman Hussein al-Abdullah said in January 2014 that no trucks carrying aid had arrived from Turkey.

The AK Party has wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power ever since the beginning of — what is now a fully-fledged — civil war in the spring of 2011 in its neighbor. Assad is a member Shiite Islam, whose members are a minority in both Sunni-dominated Syria and Turkey.

Yagmur received the Best Investigative Report of 2014 award at the European Union Investigative Journalism Awards on June 29 for his MİT trucks report. “The subject matter — trucks laden with weapons en route to Syria owned by the country’s national intelligence agency — continues to have repercussions. The story is the product of pure investigative journalism at the highest international standards,” the jury said.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN