"The Killing of a Migrant at the Greek-Turkish Border." This was the title of Germany's Der Spiegel article that had many 'holes' in its narrative, despite the insistence by one of its authors, Giorgos Christidis, that there is "little doubt he was killed by a Greek bullet."
Little doubt? I would say that there is a big doubt.
So what is the claim?
On March 4 at the peak of Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempt to asymmetrically invade Greece with illegal immigrants, Muhammad Gulzar, a Pakistani who had previously lived in Greece and was told by his boss Nikolaos Tzokanis to not re-enter illegally, was shot and killed at Evros on the Greek-Turkish border. Der Spiegel claims the "evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the bullet came from a Greek firearm."
So what is their evidence? Testimonials from immigrants from the Turkish side of the border and extremely blurry photos of Greek soldiers holding guns.
This is what Der Spiegel, in partnership with Light House Reports, Forenseic Architecture, and Bellingcat, which billionaire open borders advocate George Soros partially funds via the Open Society Foundation, could muster for "evidence."
They used Turkish state-funded TRT World as part of their evidence. How could we forget that TRT World were already exposed for fake news and their claims debunked during the migrant crisis in February and March. This is the very same TRT World who published old photos from November 2019 and reported they were from March; released videos of illegal migrants laughing when TRT World reporter Semir Sejfovic pretended to be shot at by Greek police; and, who claimed illegal immigrants were stripped by Greek authorities, which later photos proved was a lie.
Turkish - Greek Border, Mar. 2020: A reporter for TRT WORLD, a Turkish public station, falls to the ground to “dodge the bullets” that are allegedly fired at him by Greek police, while the migrants around him laugh at his theatrics and just walk around! @SejfovicSemir pic.twitter.com/vbRtKCHi1D
— Mike Kevrekidis (@Makis_Kevrekidi) May 9, 2020
We remind our readers that Turkey is one of the lowest ranked countries for media freedoms in the world, is the second most susceptible country surveyed in Europe and the surrounding region to fake news, has the most journalists jailed in the whole world, and 90% of media is government controlled. But these facts went beyond the German media agency.
Der Spiegel uses testimonies from illegal immigrants, but even this must be questioned for an agenda.
For example, some illegal immigrants do not hide their disdain for Greece. One example is Ali Muhammad from Afghanistan, who proudly boasted "We love Turkey. We do not like Greece at all," despite trying to enter Greece.
Let's not forget that in the 1990's, the then president of Turkey, Turgut Özal provocatively said: "We do not need to make war with Greece. We just need to send them a few million immigrants and finish with them."
Some illegal immigrants did not know they were being used by Erdoğan to pressurise Greece. Just a day before the Der Spiegel article, The Guardian spoke with other migrants trying to enter Greece illegally. Rima, a 45-year-old Syrian, said that she "understood we were being used" by Turkey the moment she saw migrants were refused entry into Greece.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an MP from the People’s Democratic Party and a member of the Human Rights Commission in Turkey, told the Guardian that refugees at Pazarkule had been used as political pawns.
However it must be kept in mind that while some migrants did not know they were political pawns, others were actively participating and were caught engaging in anti-Greek hoaxes with Semir Sejfovic and TRT World. Therefore the validity of testimonies collected by Der Spiegel, needs to be scrutinised since fake news has been well documented by TRT World and from the migrants.
Let's move to the next issue.
Der Speigel says images from Greek television station Skai TV, show Greek soldiers near where Gulzar was shot and killed carrying an FN Minimi, M4 and/or M16 semi-automatic weapons, which fire 5.56-millimetre caliber bullets. The German news agency claims that 5.56-millimetre bullets were found inside Gulzar's body.
The proof that Greek soldiers were carrying 5.56-millimetre bullet weapons? Extremely grainy and pixelated footage. Let's examine the first one.
You can barely make out that this might be an M4 or M16 Rifle with 5.56-millimetre caliber.
Did Der Spiegel not consider that the rifle being held by the Greek soldier in their "evidence" is most likely a Heckler & Koch G3?
It is more probable that the soldier they took a screen grab of, is carrying the G3 - why?
Greek infantry were the overwhelming majority of Greek Army forces at the Evros border, and as the Greek Army website shows, the infantry do not use 5.56-millimetre caliber M4's or M16's, but use the 7.62-millimetre caliber G3 that is locally produced in Greece.
In fact, it is the main weapon used by the Greek Army.
The second screen grab that Der Spiegel uses is of a soldier supposedly holding an FN Minimi, which they had to acknowledge could also be a 7.62-millimetre caliber.
In addition, the gun could also be an FN MAG, an extremely similar looking gun to the FN Minimi, that is 7.62-millimetre caliber and also used by the Greek military.
Der Spiegel claimed that an M16 was held by the soldier in the screen grab based off an extremely blurry image, and did not consider that it is likely the Greek infantry standard Heckler & Koch G3 that is locally produced, was in fact being held.
They also claimed, again from an extremely blurry image, that a Greek soldier was holding an FN Minimi, which they had to acknowledge could also be a 7.62-millimetre caliber, but did not consider it could have also been an FN MAG 7.62-millimetre caliber.
What else did Der Spiegel not consider?
They did not consider the possibility that it could have been a Turkish soldier who shot Gulzar.
Why was this never considered?
Both Der Spiegel and Bellingcat insisted that a 5.56-millimetre bullet killed the Pakistani national. It is well known that the Gendarmerie (Jandarma) were the main Turkish force at the Evros border during the migrant crisis.
This makes a mockery of Der Spiegel's claim that the "evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the bullet came from a Greek firearm."
As Gergerlioğlu told The Guardian, “Those people who died, [were] wounded, became miserable, lost their belongings, are just casualties for Erdoğan. He can construct such a game again.”
Why did Der Spiegel not pursue this possibility? It appears they have an anti-Greek agenda.
It also raises the question, why did Der Spiegel not contact the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)?
Two days before the death of Gulzar, Frontex announced in a statement that it "has already increased surveillance capacity at the Greek borders."
It would be assumed that any investigation into the death of Gulzar would also include Frontex's account of that day.
When Greek City Times reached out to Frontex, they responded saying "We are not in a position to comment on this incident, we suggest to contact the Greek authorities directly."
Although Frontex were unwilling to speak about the alleged shooting by Greek forces and felt confident enough to direct us to Greek authorities instead, it still raises the question on why Der Spiegel did not reach out to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency operating on the Greek-Turkish border region - one would imagine this would be a critical part of their evidence gathering.
Greek City Times reached out to Greek authorities, but at the time of publication they had not responded back - we will however report back if they do contact us.
The Greek government did release a statement though.
The Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson, Stelios Petsas, said "No new evidence is being presented today. So why is all this being replicated, two months later? Waging disinformation campaigns is nothing new for Turkey. Thankfully the international community understands the full extent of Turkey's methods and practices."
Corroborating Petsas' account and as mentioned earlier in this article, TRT World were already exposed for producing fake news in regards to the migrant crisis.
There are of course the famous examples of the 1955 Thessaloniki bombing hoax that led to Turkey's Istanbul pogrom against the Greek minority and the 1958 bomb hoax blamed on Greek Cypriots - among many, many others.
This article by Der Spiegel comes at a time when Frontex expects a number of illegal immigrants to soon head towards Greece again from Turkey, as reported by Greek City Times.
With this we can expect another disinformation by Turkey.
The question lingers though, will Der Spiegel, who already has a strong reputation for fake news, engage in another anti-Greek campaign that serves Turkey's agenda of attempting to destabilise Greece with mass migration and omit critical questions, information and sources?
Let's hope not, and also hope that their next investigation is much more carefully researched without such glaring inconsistencies and 'holes' in their narrative.