A former military intelligence member wanted to have a private conversation with me recently. "I have very important information," he said.
He had documents about the personal spending of government deputies, some of whom sent their personal bills to Parliament. All documents are real.
And the former intelligence member wants to sell us this information.
Now, wear my shoes. You are daily Hürriyet'’s editor-in-chief. And you have this information being offered to you. Do you buy it? Or do you think "I should stay away from trouble"?
Paying some money for a piece of information is against our principles. But this is a big story in journalistic aspects. Principles are on one side, a big story and public interest are on the other.
I think I could’ve done this in the following way: First, I could’ve tried to obtain them without paying a penny, or bargain for them.
All right, but can I publish them? I mean, can I stand against the governing party and its deputies? I could’ve done it without a blink. Now, let’s forget about all and speak the truth.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputies should relax now. There was no such dossier presented to me.
But the British Daily Telegraph’s editor-in-chief was handed a similar file in recent weeks.
What did he do? He did what I could’ve done, and published them. Since then, the paper’s daily circulation is over 60,000.
Eventually, pro-government parties had to be involved in this. And 14 deputies and four ministers resigned.
The parliamentary majority group leader was removed from office. All this took place within three weeks.
Now, let’s make a small comparison here. What happened to the Daily Telegraph’s editor-in-chief after he published the documents?
He became a big journalist.
Did the government send tax officers after him and fine him 1 billion Sterling?
In pluralist democracies, no politician ever does think about it.
What about us?
We published the court story of the Lighthouse e.V. scandal in Germany. Isn’t exploitation of religion and siphoning money for a charity organization a crime or a sin equally important as sending personal bills to Parliament?
What happened to us? Forget about politicians, even the bureaucrat who is the number one responsible insists on not resigning.
What happened to Hürriyet? On the same day, at the very same hour, seven of our companies were visited by 70 finance inspectors
And the entire world knows the result. Then, let’s find the only difference between the two countries. A shame of democracy and cultural differenceÉ
In conclusion, God saved me and I am not being served documents on deputies or ministers.If I were, I would’ve published them accidentally.
Then, Doğan Holding owner Aydın Doğan and companies would have paid the price.
We published the Lighthouse scandal and our lives turned upside down. For Pete’s sake! What if we have to publish stories about ministers and politicians who are involved in this scandal?
May God save us...
Ertuğrul Özkök is editor-in-chief of daily Hürriyet in which this piece appeared yesterday. It was translated into English by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review's staff.