Hande Firat, the CNN Türk television anchor who was the first to speak with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the start of the failed coup attempt, has rejected an offer to buy her mobile telephone for 1,000,000 Saudi Riyals (around $260,000), Rassd.com reported on Friday.
A Saudi citizen called Abu-Rakan made the offer for the Apple iPhone, which she used to broadcast Erdoğan via its FaceTime app. Abu-Rakan called it the “freedom mobile”. Firat has said that she would prefer to donate the handset to Turkey’s national museum.
Speaking to the independent Balkan News agency, the journalist explained that when the coup started, she called the president’s secretary to find out his whereabouts and whether he would make a statement.
“I was informed that he would make an announcement to the press but that there was fighting in the place where he was,” she recalled. “Hence, it was neither possible for journalists to go there nor for him to make any statements.” When the secretary told her that there would be a statement transmission via Periscope, Firat told her that no one would be able to see it. “I suggested that it be made through us. To show that the president is alive and speak to us. I was sitting in the studio at the time and waited.”
When Erdoğan came through on FaceTime, she told her colleagues but nobody believed her. “It took a few minutes to make the proper connections, then I took off my microphone and did the story. I was thinking that while we have had coups before in Turkey, this time there were air force fighter jets above us. We aren’t used to these things. We are in 2016.”
Firat said that her daughter was sending messages asking if she was OK. “She was asking why the soldiers were throwing bombs at us. I am 42 years old. I feared for my safety, for my country. I was also worried whether the president was alive. So I rushed to the phone and this was the result.”