Newspaper official fails to satisfactorily respond to why it tweeted in Turkish on English account about high-profile case
The American paper of record eluded questions by Anadolu Agency about a tweet in Turkish on its English language account about a high-profile trail of a pair of Turkish businessmen.
"We regularly translate stories when we think that there is an audience and it is not the first time,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a senior communication director, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday. "We do not do it as often but it's not an unusual [thing]."
The tweet in question came concerns the case of banker Hakan Atilla and businessman Riza Sarraf, who are on trial in New York for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. The tweets were written in Turkish – a break from the English-based account.
In the tweet, the newspaper cited the English-written news that said Sarraf pleaded guilty and would testify against Atilla.
"Turkish gold trader cuts deal with prosecutors in Iran sanctions case," it said, adding a caption to the story in Turkish that said the plea "may adversely affect Turkey-US relations".
Ha denied the Times was pursuing any political agenda and the tweet in Turkish about the trial was not aimed at influencing Turks or the trial.
Turkish users on social media saw it differently, including, Mehmet Solmaz who tweeted: “48 hours after the coup attempt in Turkey, New York Times acted sympathetic towards the perpetrators. And NYT did it at high dosage with black propaganda. They are doing it again.”
Mehmet Ceylan was also dubious about the tweet in Turkish. "New York Times World Twitter account which nearly has 2 millions followers is tweeting in Turkish. This is clearly a perceptional operation on Turkish people and gives huge hopes to FETO,” he wrote.
The Fetullah Gulen Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader is accused of or orchestrating the deadly failed coup in Turkey in July 2016.
Ankara has requested his extradition and presented evidence of the group’s decades-long plans to infiltrate all aspects of the government.
Ha said the tweet was sent by "an American who can speak Turkish.
"We have our newsroom has reporters who speak and write almost 60 languages. I would imagine the reporters who can speak Turkish in our newsroom," she added.
It is not the first time the Times has tweeted in Turkish on it English account. In April, days before a constitutional referendum in Turkey, the newspaper tweeted in Turkish, asking Europeans their thoughts on the vote.