By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.
“The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump's #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.
Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
On Wednesday, Trump gave top three positions to the New York Times, ABC and CNN.
“NBC falsely reported, citing a ‘senior U.S. military source’, that Erdogan had fled the country”, the WikiLeaks founder said.
Kyle Griffin, an NBC News producer, had tweeted a fabricated claim that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fled the country to request asylum in Germany, during the failed coup.
The Turkish embassy in the U.S. had demanded an apology from the major U.S. news network for an “utterly unacceptable” and "false" report regarding the coup attempt.
The embassy had described the false news "outrageous" and said that such sensitive information about the well-being of the Turkish president was unprofessionally handled, and shared publicly without first checking first the validity and credibility of the source.
"Senior US military source tells NBC News that Erdogan, refused landing rights in Istanbul, is reported to be seeking asylum in Germany,” Griffin had said on Twitter.
Griffin's tweet was also described as "highly irresponsible" by the Turkish embassy.
A number of media outlets, including The Washington Post, used Griffin’s tweet in their reports as millions of residents heeded Erdogan's call to defeat the coup attempt by taking to the streets.
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy located in Knightsbridge, central London for nearly six years after claiming diplomatic asylum in June 2012 after being wanted by Swedish prosecutors for questioning over various alleged sexual offenses.
He was supposed to be extradited to Stockholm by British authorities before entering the embassy.
He refused to go back to Sweden, referring to the risk of extradition to the U.S., where he insisted the American authorities would charge him with espionage for releasing troves of once-secret files to the public.
Assange, who is Australian by birth, recently became an Ecuadorian citizen and was granted a passport.
Swedish prosecutors last year dropped their investigation into allegations against Assange but he still faces arrest by British authorities for breaching his former bail conditions if he leaves the embassy.
* Kubra Chohan in Ankara contributed to this report.