On 1 August 2016, The Times reported that conservative British MP Sir Edward Garnier accepted 115.994 Pounds from the Gulenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) to write a report on Turkey. The report titled “A Report on the Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights in Turkey,” was submitted to the Commons and released in September 2015.
The report accuses the Turkish government of systematic human rights violations, restrictions of freedom of expression, and pressure on the media.
The report was written by Lord Woolf, Sir Edward Garnier QC, the Conservative MP, Prof Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, the director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, and Sarah Palin.
According to Times, Sir Edward’s report, which focused on the Turkish government’s policies against Gulen-linked organizations, was promoted by the London-based public relations company Hawthorn, which offers ‘reputation management’. The report was also sent to Philip Hammond, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, and former Prime Minister David Cameron.
However this report was taken seriously by some international media outlets when it was published. When we Google the reactions towards this report, we can see that some reputable newspapers and websites shared this report in order to criticize the Turkish government and President Erdoğan.
On 27 September 2015, The Guardian shared the report with this title: “British lawyers warn of human rights violations in Turkey.”
Here are some sentences from this report: “Turkey’s government is inflicting “systematic human rights violations” on its judiciary, police and media, according to a scathing report by senior British lawyers that was commissioned by one of president Erdogan’s exiled opponents.”
“The critical, 95 page-long survey alleges that the AK party government has interfered to produce “supine” courts, censored websites, restricted freedom of expression, stifled corruption investigations and subjected detainees to degrading treatment.”
Newsweek also announced the report with these sentences from the report:
“The Turkish government has perpetrated “systematic human rights violations” that “justify legal action at international level”, a report commissioned by one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s opponents and written by several senior British lawyers, has found. The report adds that Erdoğan’s government has reversed steps taken towards European integration, damaging democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law.”
“The report also claims that the government is suppressing freedom of expression, particularly in the media by filing criminal prosecutions against journalists and publications and “by purging from public office, directing hate speech against, and interfering with the property rights of individuals and companies associated with the Gülen movement.”
On 28 September 2015 the international news agency of Russia, Russia Today, shared the report with its readers with this title: “Human rights abuse rampant in Turkey – British lawyers”. The report also was published in a Russian website, which included thesesentences:
“The Turkish government is guilty of systemic human rights violations, according to a report written by Britain’s top lawyers and commissioned by President Erdogan’s exiled rival and outspoken critic Fethullah Gulen.
The inquiry’s findings, which were published Monday, were that some 40,000 police officers, civil servants, judges and public prosecutors were removed from their posts since 2013. Drawing attention to Erdogan administration’s egregious restriction of freedom of expression, the 95-page report called for legal action against the Turkish government from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).”
The same day, the Iranian website Press TV announced the report with these sentences: “Turkey was hit by a corruption scandal in December 2013 in which several key people in the government were involved. In response, the ruling party started a campaign against judiciary, police and media to cover up the corruption. A report by senior British lawyers describes the measures taken by the government of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to silence dissenting voices as “human rights violations”.”
Lastly, the website of the Samanyolu Haber, one of FETÖ’s official media outlets, published the Guardian’s news about Sir Edward Garnier’s report mentioned above. Samanyolu article quotes many sentences from the Guardian’s report and explains how the “reputable” newspaper criticised the Turkish government especially on human rights violations.
In this way, the circle was completed: FETÖ provided money to a British MP in order to write a report which included strong criticisms of the Turkish government. Then, many international media outlets from different country announced this report to their readers. Lastly, a FETÖ-linked website shared news about the report for its Turkish readers.
This report’s story is a typical example which shows FETÖ’s soft-power in the international community. It also reveals how FETÖ works to create a negative image of the Turkey abroad.