Today’s Zaman acknowledges misrepresenting colonel’s statement

We have received the following e-mail from Today’s Zaman in relation to our previous post:

“Dear Cdgercekler admin and authors,

I am writing this letter in response to your blog post entitled “Another blatant lie from Today’s Zaman” posted on Oct. 23. The link to the said post is this:

I am the person who translated that story.

I was made aware of your blog post by my editors, who pointed out the untruthful bit you mention in the story. At first I thought the original I had gotten said the person testifying had assisted in hiding the documents at Gölcük, but the same story in Zaman didn’t make the same claim. So it was my mistake.

This is what the Turkish version said:  “Balyoz davasının dünkü duruşmasında savunma yapan tutuklu sanık Albay Yüksel Gürcan, önemli itiraflarda bulundu. Gölcük Donanma Komutan-lığı’ndaki zemin döşemesinin altından çıkan ve ıslak imzasını taşıyan evrakı kendisinin hazırladığını kabul etti.” (availalbe at

As you point out, it doesn’t say that he participated in hiding the documents physically. I must have understood it incorrectly. I don’t remember the circumstances of the day when I rewrote the story for Today’s Zaman, and maybe I was distracted or couldn’t concentrate as I should have. Whatever the reason was, my translation was obviously wrong. So I misunderstood the text and tere was no way our copy editors could tell that.

I am not careless or dismissive when translating people’s testimonies, and it looks like I misread the sentence; perhaps because I was in a rush or having a bad day. Whatever it was, it was not intentional.

I completely understand that these are people’s testimonies and they are important and we should be careful translating them, but it wasn’t something I did intentionally. And I am sorry for inadvertently distorting what the colonel said. I am even sorrier you thought it was carried out as part of our newspaper’s editorial policy.

We have corrected the web version of the story, and we thank you for pointing it out.

So it was not a blatant lie, it was just an honest mistake. I am not proud of it, but it is not what you say it is.

E. Barış Altıntaş
Today’s Zaman”

As the letter states, the online version of the article has now been corrected and no longer states that the officer acknowledged hiding the document in question.

The proper way for Today’s Zaman to acknowledge its “mistake” would have been to print an explicit correction of the form: “We wrote, incorrectly, in our article dated that .…  The truth is that ….”  Instead, all that TZ has done is to delete the incorrect statement from its online archive.  By failing to acknowledge its mistake on its site, the paper continues to fall short of generally-accepted ethical standards for journalism.

We find Mr. Altıntaş’ explanation that he was “careless” or was “having a bad day” odd, to say the least.  After all, it is not that the English version omitted or mistranslated a portion of what the officer said or of what was reported in the Turkish-language version of the same article.  Instead, the translation invented  a whole new, quite explicit confession (“A colonel … has said he was the person who hid crucial evidence under floor tiling at Gölcük Naval Base.”) and attributed it to the colonel.   Some bad day!

We would also be a bit more sympathetic if Zaman and Today’s Zaman had not made a habit of routinely printing falsehoods about the Sledgehammer case (as well as other similar trials) – and failing to retract them.  Zaman has reported at various times that the CDs containing the Sledgehammer documents bear authenticated fingerprints, that the handwriting on them belongs to one of the defendants, that the plot documents carry the officers’ signatures, that civilian staff have admitted preparing the coup documents, that military prosecutors have certified the coup plans as genuine—all of which are patently false.  For examples see, here (in English) and here (in Turkish).  One at least two occasions, Zaman quietly pulled articles off their web archive after we pointed out the errors they contained (see here and here).

And by the way, even in the corrected version of the current article Today’s Zaman continues to misrepresent the facts of the case and the arguments of those who believe the Sledgehammer documents to be fake.  For reasons that are obvious to all but apparently Zaman reporters and editors, the presence of one authentic, signed document that is unrelated to Sledgehammer does not make the rest authentic.  In fact, the circumstances surrounding the document in question strengthen the skeptics’ case on forgery (read our entry here in full to see why).

Oscar Wilde wrote in one of his plays: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”  Zaman is a repeat offender and has moved well beyond the carelessness territory.  Its editorial policy consists of willful and systematic distortion of the facts of the case against the defendants.

Abone Ol

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7 Yorum “Today’s Zaman acknowledges misrepresenting colonel’s statement”

  1. Olasılıksız Says:

    Barış Altıntaş samimi bir kaz çevirme itirafında bulunmuş. 🙂 Aslında Zaman gazetesinin bu noktaya gelmesi de bir düşünsel değişiklik. Bülent Arınç’da tuhaf şeyler söylemeye başladı.. Milletvekili seçilenler serbest bırakılmalı, Denizfenerindeki tahliye kararı diğerlerine örnek olmalı gibi şeyler söylüyor.

    Adalet Bakanı da dün silivriye gitmiş… şikayetlerde haklılık payı var gibi bir şeyler söylemiş…

    Galiba bazı davalarda tahliyelerin ucu görünecek gibi… Sonuçta bu davalar işlevini tamamladı. Uzatılması artık yarardan çok zarara yol açabilir.


    • trekking Says:

      Sevgili Olasılıksız,

      Tahliyelerin ucu görünecek gibi demişsin. Bugün Deniz Albay Sencer Başat tahliye edilmiş. Oy Birliğiyle.İlginç!


      • Olasılıksız Says:

        Evet, ben de gazetede okudum.. bana da ilginç geldi. Hangi detayla, hangi gerekçeyle tahliye edildi, doğrusu merak ettim. Çünkü diğerlerinin tahliye talepleri “kuvvetli suç şüphesiyle” reddedilmiş.


      • Olasılıksız Says:

        Bugün Balyoz’da 1 tahliye talebi daha kabul edilmiş…

        İlginç şeyler oluyor. Acaba önce tutuklayıp sonra tahliye etmeye gerekçe olan konular neler?


  2. Barış Altıntaş Says:

    Dear author,

    “Some bad day!” –> Does this imply that you think I lied to you in my e-mail? Please write it out clearly if I am being accused of untruthfullnless in what I wrote.

    Also, thank you for not bothering to respond to my e mail. That was the kind of courtesy I would expect from someone who feels like they won a victory when confronted with an honest apology. Doesn’t bother me, but says a lot about what kind of person its author is.

    Also, I am not a man as you refer to me in your blog post. Not that it matters.


    • Can Acar Says:

      Barış Altıntaş,

      Given the wording of the original article, I believe what you wrote is an honest mistake.

      The original article (in Turkish) starts with saying that “Albay Yuksel acknowledged that he prepared the documents found under the floorboards in Gölcük”. The article then proceeds to suggest that “this fact refutes claims that these are placed there by a cabal inside TSK”.

      Now, the only way Yuksel’s statements would actually refute the claims would be if he confessed to placing the documents himself. These two sentences were “designed” to give that impression. The fact that you fell for it while translating is a great proof. It seems, because you were tired/having a bad day, etc. you translated what you “understood” from the paragraph, rather than doing a word-by-word translation.

      Zaman does this all the time. They provide some arbitrary fact, and say that this is a proof for some argument they want to push. These articles are designed to confuse and spread false information without writing obvious lies. Here are some more examples:

      Zaman claimed that the dates on the CDs are a proof that the CDs (and the Balyoz coup plans) are genuine.

      Zaman claimed that finding the same document in multiple OdaTV computers is the proof that the documents could not be planted by a virus.

      This blog is filled with many such examples. Just look under the “Medya yalanları” tag.

      Now, the way Todays Zaman “fixed” the mistake is yet another example of their lack of ethics. You are not working in a newspaper. You are working in a propaganda machine. Working there tarnishes you reputation much more than any blog post ever could. If you are offended by what is written here, please consider what you are already part of.

      Sincerely …


    • Olasılıksız Says:

      Dear Altıntaş,

      You are responsible from what you translate or what you write.
      An apology is a good thing but it wont erase the harm which is already done. This is the way how Zaman and some other news media always do.

      Many people have an opinion from what they read. Corrections or apologies don’t reverse these opinions. So, if you are really honest as you say, you must check the contents of your writings not only for translation but for the thuth as well.



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