Turkish reporters working for Anadolu Agency (AA) who recently traveled to the Greek island of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) to cover recent developments there received threats from an anti-Turkish website that had obtained their passport information from authorities.
AA’s Athens Representative Tevfik Durul and photojournalist Ayhan Mehmet flew from the Greek capital to Rhodes and reached the island by ship.
A Greece-based anti-Turkish website called Turkikanea.gr published a provocative editorial a few hours after they arrived.
“Why do we allow Turkish spies of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to go to (Kastellorizo)? Why did we let them set foot on the island? Don’t we know what these MIT spies are trying to do? We hope the authorities will do what is necessary!” it said.
The website also published a photo of Durul’s passport, a copy of which should only be kept by Greek authorities and not shared with anyone.
An explanation is expected from Greece on how the site managed to obtain a photo of the passport as Durul had not shown the page to anyone besides authorities during his trips to Athens and Kastellorizo.
The website also acted in a provocative manner by posting information on Mehmet’s birthplace.
“Targeting two journalists who went to the island to follow up on news is a heavy blow to press freedom,” Senol Kazancı, the agency’s director-general, said in a statement.
Condemning the inflammatory editorial, Kazancı pointed out that journalists working for AA, a global news agency, are closely following breaking developments on Kastellorizo as they are in every corner of the world.
“Greek authorities should provide a safe working environment for AA journalists,” he said.
“We expect an explanation and an apology from the Athens administration for how the identity and passport information of our friends, which should only be in the hands of the Greek authorities, was leaked,” he added.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun criticized Greece for releasing confidential information about the journalists to a website.
“You will pay the price if those Turkish reporters come in harm’s way. Nobody can silence Anadolu Agency, whose staff work in the most hostile environments, through threats, intimidation or the publication of their personal information,” Altun said on Twitter.
“We condemn the Greek authorities’ efforts to incite violence, through a fascist website, against AA journalists in (Kastellorizo). That Greek journalists work freely in Turkey, which the EU loves to lecture on press freedom, as Greece, an EU member, acts like a mafia state is worth noting,” Altun added.
According to recent media reports, Greek authorities deployed military elements to Kastellorizo. Turkey slammed the move, recalling that the island has had a demilitarized status since the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties.
Tensions have been running high for weeks in the Eastern Mediterranean as both Turkey and Greece have been conducting military maneuvers in the area.
Athens disputes Ankara’s current energy exploration activities in the region, trying to box in its neighbor’s maritime territory based on the proximity of Greek islands to the Turkish coast.
Turkey – the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean – has sent out drillships to explore energy reserves on what it considers its continental shelf.