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Cablegate: Media Gets It Wrong On Two Terror Stories

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 001313

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SE, DS/DSS/OSAC, DS/IP/EUR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KPAO TU
SUBJECT: MEDIA GETS IT WRONG ON TWO TERROR STORIES


1. (U) On July 26, TGRT TV station, a part of the Ihlas
Group of companies, aired a mistaken report on its daily news
program that there had been a large explosion with many
injured in Istanbul's Taksim Square. (Note: There was no
such explosion. End note.) The report was supplemented by a
TGRT reporter calling in "live" from the scene, who confirmed
the bombing. Several other channels, including Haberturk and
reportedly some international wires, picked up the story, as
did police who rushed to the area to verify reports. Minutes
after the story was broadcast, TGRT reported that the
"explosion claims proved unfounded." Turkish national police
detained two TGRT reporters who were released after giving
statements.

2. (U) It is unclear if this incident was the result of a
bad hoax for which there will be punishment, or if it simply
resulted from the two reporters' incompetence. When the CG
queried Istanbul's Police Chief about the TGRT story in a
July 27 outcall, the Chief simply stated the TGRT report was
a "false report" and did not elaborate on the case.

3. (U) TGRT and the Ihlas Group are owned by the Oren
family. The group also owns Ihlas News Agency, one of
Turkey's news agencies, with a wide network of reporters,
that is often used as a source by other channels. They are
generally considered to be professional and post has worked
with them in the past.

4. (U) In an unrelated development, Vatan newspaper on July
29 reported that Istanbul's Deputy Police Chief Sammaz
Demirtas said he expected an Al Qaeda attack in Istanbul by
November 2005. When queried about the story, Demirtas told
RSO his remarks had been taken out of context and that he had
been misquoted. He claimed Vatan would be printing a
retraction.

5. (U) Comment: The attacks in the U.K. and Egypt, on top
of the recent bombs incidents in Cesme and Kusadasi, may have
some Istanbul residents feeling nervous, with memories of the
2003 bombings not so distant. Some Turkish media outlets may
be seeking to capitalize on that sense of unease by pursuing
terror-related stories that sell, whether the story is there
or not.
ARNETT

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