Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he is taking legal action over publications that purportedly show Syria-bound Turkish intelligence trucks loaded with ammunition.
In a televised interview on state broadcaster TRT late Sunday, Erdogan described the photos and video footage published by Cumhuriyet daily as slander against the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and acts of espionage.
"Our National Intelligence Service gives humanitarian aid and logical support to Bayir Bucak Turkmens [Turkmens in the Bayir Bucak region in northern Latakia province of Syria]," Erdogan said.
He said the operation against MIT trucks, carried out in January last year, was "illegal”, adding: "These allegations amount to spying. This daily also took part in this espionage."
Erdogan said the daily received information from the illegal “parallel state” organization that Turkish state authorities say has sought to undermine and overthrow the Turkish government.
He added Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily, would be held accountable.
Cumhuriyet ran a front-page story on Friday with the headline: “Here are the arms Erdogan says there were not.”
Accompanying photos showed several vehicles filled with weapons and ammunition, stacked under cardboard boxes containing medication. In one photograph, the serial numbers on the ammunition are visible.
Istanbul prosecutor's office on Friday began a probe into Dundar.
A court has accepted the prosecutor's request for banning access to the online content showing the trucks.
In January 2014, several trucks were stopped by local gendarmerie in southern Adana and Hatay provinces on the grounds that they were loaded with ammunition, despite a national security law forbidding such a search.
The case saw the arrests of 26 soldiers.
Turkey's Interior Ministry said at the time that the trucks, which were reportedly carrying arms into northern Syria, were in reality conveying humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in the war-torn country.
Meanwhile, during the interview on Sunday, Erdogan responded to opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s remarks on the Presidential Palace, which Kilicdaroglu claimed Sunday contained golden toilet seats.
Erdogan reacted strongly to the comments, saying that he would resign as President of Turkey if Kilicdaroglu’s claims were true.
The president challenged the leader of the Republican People’s Party to do the same if his claims were proven wrong.
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