Habertürk daily journalist Serdar Turgut in a column on Monday admitted to having sought approval from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office before publishing an intelligence-related report in December 2018.
In his column about the arrest of several Turkish journalists over their revelations concerning a Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officer slain in Libya, Turgut said that they were victims of a “lust for a scoop” that he said he had previously resisted in another news story with an intelligence aspect.
“I will give my own example. When MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan visited Washington to brief [some US senators] on the murder of [Saudi journalist Jamal] Khashoggi, I was the only one to have the news,” Turgut wrote. “My first instinct was to give in to the lust for a scoop and report it right away. Then, good sense kicked in, and I sent a message to the presidential communications office asking whether it would pose any problems.”
“I only published the report after receiving their answer that it would be OK. I did not think in any way that my behavior would undermine the principles of journalism as it was a matter of national interest,” he said. “I have a clean conscience about it, and I advise this to all my young colleagues.”
Last week Turkish authorities arrested journalists Murat Ağırel, Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç for revealing information about the MİT officer who was killed in Libya.
Terkoğlu and Kılınç work for the OdaTV news website, which posted video footage from the funeral of the intelligence officer last Tuesday and became a target of the pro-government media, which claimed that OdaTV revealed the identities of the intelligence officers attending the funeral.