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Greek website publishes passport of Turkish journalist visiting frontline island

Ankara denounces move after nationalist site accuses a reporter visiting the Greek island of Kastellorizo of being a spy
Anadolu is expected to sue the Greek website for disclosing the personal information of its reporters (screengrab)
By in
Istanbul

A Greek nationalist website has targeted two Turkish journalists who arrived on the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Wednesday by revealing their passport information and residential addresses, accusing them of working on behalf of Turkish intelligence.

The tiny island, which lies less than 2km off the Turkish mainland, has found itself on the frontline of the ongoing maritime dispute between Greece and Turkey.

Tourkikanea.gr, a news blog which mainly translates Turkish reports into Greek, published the passport page of Tevfik Durul, the Athens correspondent for Turkey's Anadolu news agency.

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The website also disclosed the residential address of a dual Turkish and Greek national, photojournalist Ayhan Mehmet.

“Why do we allow the Turkish citizen & MIT (Turkish intelligence) agent-journalist to go to Kastellorizo ​​these days?” the website said in an editorial.

“Why did we allow him to step foot [on this island]? Don’t we know what role MIT agents play? We hope they treat him properly.”

Speaking to Middle East Eye in a phone interview, Durul said:

“They published the identification page of my passport as we arrived on the island on Wednesday evening.

“We didn’t have any problem on our journey from Athens to the island. We are used to being criticised by the Greek media, but publishing our personal identification is a first.”

Turkey Greece

Durul said that the two men felt they had been followed by Greek security forces on the ferry from the island of Rhodes to Kastellorizo.

“Police told us to be careful in the island due to bilateral tensions,” Durul said. “But we felt followed, as a motorcycle was going up and down constantly outside of our current hotel on the island.”

Anadolu, a state-run news agency, is expected to sue the website for disclosing the personal information of its reporters.

The report drew swift condemnation from Fahrettin Altun, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, who tweeted that Greek journalists had not received similar treatment in Turkey.

“We condemn the Greek authorities' efforts to incite violence, through a fascist website, against AA (Anadolu Agency) 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 said.

In response, Tourkikanea.gr said that Turkish journalists would continue to be the subject of their reporting.

“Those who serve [Turkish] interests at this critical moment, when Turkey is threatening us with an invasion, [they] will be in our 'sights'," it said.

Davutoglu warns of confrontation

On Thursday, former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey risks military confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean because it prizes power over diplomacy.

Davutoglu told Reuters that Ankara had genuine grievances over Greek claims to tens of thousands of square kilometres of sea extending up to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, but added that Erdogan's approach carried huge risks.

"Unfortunately our government is not doing a proper diplomatic performance," he said in an interview, warning that if both Greece and Turkey prefer "power projections" over diplomacy, "at any time any crisis may erupt and escalate".

Turkey and Greece have laid claims to areas in the eastern Mediterranean where experts have said there are vast, untapped hydrocarbon resources.

Both countries have vehemently disagreed over each other's claims to the area, based on conflicting views as to who controls the continental shelves in the area's waters.

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Athens treats Kastellorizo as a mainland area, and is therefore seeking maritime rights.

However, the island is less than 2km from Turkey’s Antalya, while the Greek mainland is more than 500km away.

Ankara dispatched the Oruc Reis research vessel last month after Athens and Cairo made a pact that ratified their maritime boundaries.

The Turkish navy issued a new advisory this week saying that the Oruc Reis would continue surveying the area until 12 September.

Ankara had previously said it intended to continue its survey only until 1 September. Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and said it had recently discovered a 320bn cubic metre gas field.