Businessman Akın İpek has issued a strong rebuke to the Sabah and Takvim dailies, the two flagship government media outlets, who repeated in their Tuesday editions allegations that İpek is expanding his villa in Ankara to make it spacious enough to host Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen when he returns from the US to live in Turkey.
In the Bugün daily, owned by İpek, the businessman issued a statement in a piece titled “They are lying.” He said the reporters of the two newspapers took pictures of the building that has been his family home for 40 years from a helicopter. “It seems that the pool [media] issue, which has been widely discussed in the public arena lately, has been imprinted on their subconscious so strongly that they even made a story about whether my [swimming] pool was full or not,” İpek wrote, referring to the Sabah group papers, known as the “pool media” after the alleged collection of money in a fund pool by the government in order to purchase the group.
“Law, morality and conscience have fallen through the floor,” he wrote while denying the allegations about him and Gülen, before going on to say: “Above all else, anyone who has visited Hocaefendi [a term used for revered religious figures and is often given to Gülen] knows his lifestyle. He does not lead a [luxurious] life, nor does he want to live like this. His smiles, sorrows and lifestyle are all for humanity and for the sake of Allah.”
He also rejected the assertions in the same stories that his companies covertly finance Hizmet.“All the companies I manage are transparent companies audited by national and international institutions. The claim that me or anyone in my companies is a fund-raiser of any group or institution is baseless, mean and immoral.”
İpek also wrote that anyone who has committed a crime should be arrested, tried and if found guilty, punished within the scope of the current laws. “Just like a person who has lost his mind might kill an entire village on the possibility that there might be some guilty people there, plotting the total annihilation of a community [such as Hizmet] is a crime ... and a sin,” he wrote. He also said that lies have consequences not only in this world but also in the next.
The repeated claims that Gülen -- who lives in the US in self-imposed exile -- will return to Turkey and live in İpek's mansion have been denied both by İpek and Gülen's lawyers and the two papers were ordered by a court to publish a correction and apology for the fabricated story, which the dailies have not obeyed. In their latest stories, the papers added pictures of the mansion taken above from a helicopter. A helicopter with the tail number TC080 hovered above the mansion and took many pictures of the private property of the businessman, said the story in Bugün.
The Bugün daily also reported on Wednesday that Sabah and Takvim's stories constitute a crime according to three articles of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Citing legal scholars, the daily said that the lies and smears were in clear contradiction of the TCK's articles on torture and torment, on disturbing individuals' peace and harmony and on the violation of privacy, all of which entail a combined jail sentence of 24 years.
The Press Council Supreme Board reprimanded the Sabah and Takvim dailies for this story after a meeting on Feb. 19, 2014 on the grounds that the claims were not based on any investigations or on concrete and proven information and that the story did not include the views of Gülen or İpek.
Published on Today's Zaman, 09 July 2014, Wednesday