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Erdoğan hitman denies controversial remarks in NYT, accuses paper of distortion

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Cem Küçük, a staunchly pro-government journalist who is known for his attacks on government critics on social media, has denied alleged remarks that appeared in a New York Times article on Thursday while he accused the US daily of manipulating his statements.

A New York Times article on Thursday talked about how press freedom in Turkey has gotten worse since a failed coup attempt on July 15 and quoted remarks from Küçük in addition to those of other journalists.

The daily introduced Küçük as one of “the most notorious and effective” of government hitmen attacking “independent-minded journalists.”

When asked about the jailing of journalists in Turkey, The New York Times quoted Küçük as saying, “They deserve it.”

Küçük also said it would not be necessary for Turkey’s remaining big newspapers to be shut down, as so many other outlets have been, because they had been brought to heel. The foundation that owns Cumhuriyet, he predicted, would soon be taken over by a group of hardliners more friendly to the president.

“I can foresee things,” he reportedly said.

“In the last three years, I am the only journalist whose writings became the truth. … In the media now, it’s me and some of my friends like me, we managed to prevail over them. For example, now I have the power to make Hürriyet do what I want it to do. Now, we are ruling the country, we are ruling the people.”

In a series of messages from his Twitter account on Thursday, Küçük said The New York Times published an “operational” newspaper distorting nearly each and every word he said.

“I have never seen such distortion. They are vile,” he said in reference to the US daily.
He accused The New York Times of being in a “dirty game.”

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