London-based news agency Reuters, which has come under harsh criticism from the Turkish government due to a recent report about an international probe that involves the son of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said its report is in line with its journalistic principles, Voice of America Turkish edition reported.
In its special report on June 26, Reuters said anti-corruption authorities in the United States and Sweden are 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, the son of President 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.
In the wake of angry reactions from Turkish government officials who accused Reuters of producing disinformation and fake news, VOA asked Reuters its view on the subject.
In a written statement to VOA, Reuters said its report was written in line with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles and its commitment to global public interest and fair and accurate reporting, adding that it stands behind its report.
Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, created in 1941, imposed obligations on Reuters and its employees to act at all times with integrity, independence and freedom from bias.
Following the publication of the Reuters report, government officials lashed out at the agency, claiming it was spreading disinformation, while some pro-government media outlets have unilaterally terminated their contract with the agency.
Fahrettin Altun, communications director for President Erdoğan, described the Reuters report 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.”
Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz said he condemns Reuters for reporting “manipulative and fake news” targeting Bilal Erdoğan, adding that Turkey acts in line with international law and its national interests.
The allegations come at a sensitive time for bilateral relations between Turkey and Sweden, since Turkey has so far 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.