Fahrettin Altun, communications director for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has condemned Reuters due to a special report published on Monday that covered a complaint involving a US company’s Swedish affiliate and alleging kickbacks tied to Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The Reuters report said anti-corruption authorities in the US and Sweden were reviewing a complaint alleging that Dignita Systems AB, the Swedish affiliate of a US company, pledged to pay tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks if Bilal Erdoğan helped it secure a dominant market position in the country.
Although no kickbacks were paid, ultimately, and the company abandoned the project late last year, the complaint provides a “rare insight” into how an investor regarded Bilal Erdoğan as a key person to gain access to President Erdoğan, who won a new five-year mandate on May 28, according to Reuters.
Altun described the Reuters report in a tweet on Monday as a “product of disinformation,” saying that it was, from the perspective of the history of journalism, “both a black mark against and a pitiful example of a 171-year-old media organization publicly humiliating itself.”
Today, the Reuters news agency provided its subscribers with the title of a special file aimed at Bilal Erdoğan, the son of our President, containing baseless claims and so-called news consisting of a script; from the perspective of the history of journalism, it is both a black… pic.twitter.com/06MXhHDyfe
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) June 26, 2023
“It raises numerous questions as to why this perception operation, which is … evidently aimed at the President’s family, was published just prior to the upcoming NATO leaders’ summit,” Altun said.
Saying that such “attacks” on Erdoğan were futile efforts and disrespectful to the will of the Turkish nation, Altun condemned Reuters for publishing “this false news story.”
“We would like to make it crystal-clear that this operational news … will never be able to undermine Turkey’s principled stance. … We will continue to work … in order not to allow our nation and international public opinion to be manipulated,” he added.
Meanwhile, the pro-government Albayrak Media Group announced on Tuesday via their official Twitter account that they had unilaterally terminated their contract with the Reuters news agency due to the news piece concerning Bilal Erdoğan.
Albayrak Medya olarak Reuters Haber Ajansı ile olan sözleşmemizi tek taraflı feshetmiş bulunmaktayız.
Kamuoyuna saygı ile duyurulur.
— Albayrak Medya (@AlbayrakMedya) June 27, 2023
The allegations come at a sensitive time for bilateral relations between Turkey and Sweden, as Turkey recently blocked Sweden’s attempt to join NATO, accusing the Nordic country of harboring alleged terrorists. The investigation into Dignita’s Turkish efforts further strains already tense relations between the two nations.