Turkish envoy accuses Washington Post of giving print space to a terrorist in letter

Serdar Kılıç, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, said in a letter to the Washington Post that the newspaper had given print space to a terrorist by publishing an op-ed by Cemil Bayık, a founding member and top field commander of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“I was astounded to see the July 5 Friday Opinion essay ‘Time for peace between Kurds and Turkey’ appear in The Post,” the ambassador said. He pointed out that the United States had put a $12 million bounty on Bayık and two other senior figures of the organisation. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union along with Turkey, he said. 

"I can assure you that reading an opinion piece by a terrorist has made the Turkish people feel whatever a U.S. citizen would have felt when reading an article written by, say, Osama bin Laden on the same pages,” Kılıç said in the letter, published on Thursday.

The Washington Post published Bayık’s opinion piece in xxxxx, just after the Turkish government lifted years-long visitation restrictions on jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Turkey’s decision, which preceded a re-run of mayoral elections for Istanbul in June, prompted speculation that it might be aiming to revive a peace process to end the country’s more than three-decade long Kurdish conflict. A two-and-a-half year ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK collapsed in July 2015.

Bayık said in his article that the PKK and the Turkish state had a rare opportunity to move the dispute toward a lasting solution, adding that Öcalan remained the lead negotiator of the PKK.