Wikileaks michelle01


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Wikileaks michelle01

  1. 1. id: 84263date: 11/3/2006 14:34refid: 06NICOSIA1883origin: Embassy Nicosiaclassification: CONFIDENTIALdestination:header:VZCZCXRO8942OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSRDE RUEHNC #1883/01 3071434ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 031434Z NOV 06FM AMEMBASSY NICOSIATO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7162INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATERUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 4783RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL IMMEDIATE 1017RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0669RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATERUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATERUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE----------------- header ends ----------------C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NICOSIA 001883SIPDISSIPDISDEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SEE.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2016TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, MOPS, CY, GR, TUSUBJECT: JOURNALISTIC LICENSE, POLITICAL AMBITIONS BEHINDLATEST CYPRUS SCANDALClassified By: Ambassador Ronald L. Schlicher, Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)1. (C) SUMMARY: Nicosia awoke October 22 to "news" theTurkish Army twenty years ago employed Greek Cypriot (G/C)and Greek detainees as "guinea pigs" at weapons productionfacilities outside Ankara. According to preliminary accountsin leading daily "Philelefteros," the alleged victims,prisoners since the 1974 hostilities on the island, hadsuffered an unknown fate. Central to the allegations was arecent article in an obscure Washington think-tanks monthlyjournal. Despite the authors profound caveat -- "suchreferences (to the guinea pigs) have not been confirmed orverified" -- the story snowballed, prompting prominent RoCofficials to Turkey-bash and demand a full reckoning. Groupsrepresenting the Cypriot missing persons mobilized, and ourclosest contacts sought Embassy confirmation of thethink-tanks bona fides. Within days, however, large holesin the account became evident. Turkey predictably dismissedthe report out of hand. Opposition media questioned theobjectivity of both the researcher and the Washington-based
  2. 2. G/C journalist who broke the story here. And rumors surfacedthat both men had acted under Tassos Papadopouloss orders,the RoC president masterminding the scandal to tarnishAnkaras image and EU accession chances. "Philelefteros" hasbegun to backpedal under the public cross-examination,defending tooth-and-nail its decision to publish sketchyallegations. Even the Foreign Ministry, usually precise inits arguments, could only blast past Turkish noncooperationon missing persons, a sign that it, too, had doubts.Colleagues in Ankara and elsewhere can judge whether thethink-tanks allegations merit further review. From ourside, the scandal illustrates the poor performance,shameless bias, and "for sale" nature of most Cypriotjournalists on both sides of the island. END SUMMARY.--------------------------MIAs Still Front Page News--------------------------2. (U) Some 1500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriotswent missing between the 1963 outbreak of inter-communalviolence and the Turkish military intervention in July/August1974. Relatives organizations wield considerable clouthere, while the fate of the missing has long figured high innegotiations for a Cyprus settlement. Gravesite discoveries,even promising leads, generate significant media coverage onboth sides of the island.3. (SBU) In this environment, "Philelefteross" October 22front-page story spawned immediate buzz. "The Missing --Turkeys Guinea Pigs" read the headline drafted by Washingtoncorrespondent (and regular thorn-in-our-side) MichaelIgnatiou. At the top, Ignatiou identified his primary sourcedocument, an article in the September 2006 "Defense andForeign Affairs Strategic Policy" (DFASP) journal. Itsauthor, whom the G/C journalist did not name, argued in DFASPthat Turkey had developed chemical and biological weapons foruse against PKK rebels. Buried amidst accounts of theweapons employment in southeast Turkey lay the followingsupposed revelation: "There were many references --denounced mostly by Kurds but also Turks -- that, during1984-88, many missing G/C and Greek soldiers captured in 1974ended up in the secret biochemical labs of the Turkish Armyand were used as guinea pigs. However, such references havenot been confirmed or verified." The DFASP piece alsoalleged that Turkish secret police operating clandestinely inCyprus in 1994 had assassinated a G/C journalist aware of thesecret labs and their ethnic Greek lab rats.SIPDIS4. (U) RoC reactions were swift. Papadopoulos offeredmeasured comments, promising that administration officialswould study carefully the allegations. Foreign MinisterGeorge Lillikas leaned further forward, calling the DFASPreport "a shock, a human tragedy, especially for the victimsfamilies." Sensing perhaps that Lillikas had leant too muchcredibility to the "unverified, unconfirmed" report,
  3. 3. Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis backtracked,emphasizing that, while the RoC took seriously theallegations, it was in no position to verify them.5. (C) Contacts sought the Embassys opinion on DFASP andthe veracity of its report. UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) DCMWlodek Cibor telephoned PolChief October 23, concerned theNICOSIA 00001883 002 OF 003allegations -- and the possible RoC response -- conceivablycould hinder operations of the UN Committee on MissingPersons (CMP), the UNs most successful bi-communaloperation. UN Special Representative Michael Moller sharedhis worries, Cibor added. In a working lunch with PolChiefthe following day, Greek Embassy First Secretary CostasKollias opined that DFASPs "evidence" looked scant. As inCyprus, however, the missing persons issue in Greece wasquite sensitive, and the relatives of the 80-odd Greeknationals who disappeared in 1974 would demand governmentaction. GoG investigative efforts were centered inWashington, Kollias added, with the Greek Embassy therecanvassing its State, DoD, and think-tank contacts.-------------------Backtracking Begins-------------------6. (U) Additional details on DFASP emerged in the media onOctober 25. Media reported the think-tank was the brainchildof Gregory Copley, an Australian-born, Washington-resident"defense and foreign policy expert." "Philelefteros"published excerpts of Copleys CV, emphasizing the researcherenjoyed great influence within Pentagon walls. Thepro-government daily continued its attack on Ankaras allegedculpability and unwillingness to tackle the missing personsissue in good faith.7. (SBU) Opposition-affiliated media took a different tack,however. Acquiring the source report from DFASPs journal,they attacked the hearsay that peppered the text.English-language daily "Cyprus Mail" called Copley "anAmerican nutcase conspiracy theorist who runs a US-joke of anorganization...that nobody with half a brain would takeseriously." "Politis" and "Alithia" questioned whyPhilelefteros chose to publicize the inflammatory,unconfirmed accounts of G/C and Greek "guinea pigs,"surmising that pressure from the Papadopoulos administrationlay behind the ethically questionable decision. GregoryCopley was a hired gun, they continued. Websites of both theCyprus Embassy in Washington and the American HellenicInstitute -- which rarely miss an opportunity to bash Turkey-- contained links to Copley-authored texts, the papersadded.8. (C) Media buried deeply Turkeys response to Copleysrevelations, or ignored it completely. "Greek Cypriots
  4. 4. themselves dont believe this nonsense," asserted LeventEler, political counselor at Turkeys "embassy" to the"TRNC." The Philelefteros story appeared a clumsy attempt tobesmirch his countrys reputation in the run-up to theDecember European Council meeting, where Turkeys EUaccession course would be debated. Eler was reporting on thescandal, he told PolChief October 31, but his superiors inAnkara seemed completely disinterested. On the other hand,the Turkish Cypriot CMP member had issued a statementdeclaring Copleys accounts works of fiction. Turkeys "fullsupport" of CMP activities would continue, Eler finished.9. (C) On account of FM Lillikass pledge to investigate andof DFASPs U.S. address, we expected the Foreign Ministry torequest consultations. The call never came. Curious, wefollowed up with Second Secretary Christina Tzika, who trackshuman rights issues at the MFA. Tzika October 31 revealedher ministry had obtained no verification of Copleys claims. Nor had expected pressure for action from missing personsgroups materialized. Despite her near-admission that DFASPsaccount appeared baseless, Tzika criticized Turkeys overallhandling of the prisoner issue. Ankara, she argued, haddelegated all responsibilities to the CMP, an institutiontasked only with identifying gravesites and exhuming corpseson the island. Other reports -- "confirmed," she claimed --proved Turkey was holding G/C and Greek prisoners of war aslate as the mid-1980s. Turkey most open its files, Tzikaended.---------------------------And Attack Yields to Defend---------------------------10. (SBU) With public opinion seeming to turn against"Philelefteros," journalist Ignatiou assumed the defense. Ina prominently placed October 30 article, he offered aNICOSIA 00001883 003 OF 003seven-point justification for breaking the DFASP story.Copley, Ignatiou explained, had great Pentagon support (butnone at Foggy Bottom), towed the Administrationscounter-terrorrism line without fault, and once worked forCaspar Weinberger. U.S. Embassy websites featured links tohis works, and prominent North American universities promotedthem, as did the National Defense University. Finally, theJustice Department "supported" his reporting on the Muslimworld. The journalist pressed the Send button only afterCopley had "insisted" he had numerous Turkish Army sourceswho had corroborated the story. Nowhere did Ignatiou mentionpersonal efforts to inspect evidence or confirm witnessaccounts, however.11. (U) Copley, too, saw the need to clear his name. In a"press advisory" transmitted to major Cypriot media October31, the think-tanker, under the byline "President ofInternational Strategic Studies Association (ISSA)," struck
  5. 5. back at "Politis" and "Cyprus Mail." Their attacks, Copleystressed, "were designed to embarrass the elected Governmentof Cyprus...while supporting the interests of the TurkishGovernment." ISSA stood behind its story, but revealingsources names and positions, as critics were demanding,could threaten their well-being. The organization reservedthe right "to respond more substantially, legally, againstPolitis."--------Comment:--------12. (C) Four hundred miles separate Nicosia from the "secretbiochem weapons facilities" of suburban Ankara; we thereforeare in no position to comment on the substance of Copleysallegations. Similarly, we cannot verify his claims thatISSA "directly employs 200 field collectors and intelligenceanalysts to service clients in 246 countries and territories"(a figure that exceeds the UNs roll, "Politis" chuckled.)Yet the editors among us can differentiate well-researchedtexts from conjecture and hearsay. Copleys unverified andunconfirmed account falls neatly into the latter category.From there, its no great leap to accept opposition mediaclaims that the RoC itself had fomented the scandal.Alexandra Attilidou (protect), a reliable Embassy contact atIntercollege, the Nicosia institution where Copley hasspoken, lent credence to "Politiss" counter-accusationsOctober 29. Not only had the Presidency commissioned theTurk-bashing story, she contended, but it directed Ignatiouto break it just two weeks before the European Commissionissues its accession process report card. Papadopoulos hadhoped to cement public support for hard-line anti-Ankaratactics, the reasoning went.13. (C) If Attilidous allegations prove true, Ignatioulikely played the willing co-conspirator, since numerous andvaried Embassy interlocutors declare he is in the Presidentspocket. While the journalists actions did not directlycompromise U.S interests on this occasion, more often thannot he causes us problems. Criticizing our Cyprus policy isno crime, of course (its more the national sport here,actually.) But "Philelefteross" star snoop uses the accesswe grant him against us. Cutting Ignatiou off completelywould backfire, but we ought consider weaning him soon. EndComment.SCHLICHER=======================CABLE ENDS============================