BOSTON — Retired U.S. Ambassador Arthur H. Hughes in an exclusive interview with The National Herald emphatically denied that he is the author of the article which attempted to falsely implicate His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate against the Turkish government. The opinion piece, titled “Will Ankara Take Aim at Patriarch Bartholomew?” as TNH reported last week, first appeared on the website of the Oriental Review and was then reprinted by other sites. The article, falsely attributed to Hughes, purported that the patriarch, whose see is in Constantinople, was connected to the failed military coup in July against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
TNH: What is the story behind the article about Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate in regards to the relations with the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan?
Hughes: On August 16, the Oriental Review put on its website an article concerning the Patriarch of Constantinople and attributed it to me, but I can state absolutely categorically that I did not inspire the article, I did not write the article, I did not submit the article to anyone, it is a total fabrication. And as I put it out to Mr. Fomin who identifies himself as a Founding Editor of Oriental Review any one who had done even a cursory examination of my background on various websites would have seen that I have no experience or involvement in Turkish matters nor matters of the Church whether it will be the Greek Orthodox Church or any other Christian Church. It is just not my field of activity.
TNH: Do you have any suspicion who did this?
Hughes: I am not sure really, I do not want to speculate because as I said I have not been involved in these matters at all and so any speculation on any party would not be based on any information.
TNH: Don’t you think it is irresponsible on the part of Oriental Review to publish the article without asking you, without verifying your name, without contacting you?
Hughes: I agree that a journal whether it is this one or others should be expected to engage in some due diligence to insure the validity of people who send them e-mails or articles. Mr. Fomin did take the article down as soon as I complained and sent me an e-mail in which he expressed regrets of having posted it but I am requesting a public statement on his website which he has not done. No, there are other cases- I won’t mention them- they have acted responsibility and inquired whether or not I had anything to do with the article and I responded to them very quickly and in those cases they did not post it.
TNH: Are you thinking of taking legal action against Oriental Review?
Hughes: I think it is a good question but a legal action under the laws of the United States will go anywhere. I appreciated the fact that Mr. Fomin did take the article down immediately and I appreciated that other journals did inquire and did not post it, so frankly my view is any journal that runs it now is doing it for their own reasons regardless of the fact of who wrote it. Any organization that uses this article now knows that I had nothing to do with it and therefore they have their own reasons for using it.
TNH: Can you imagine what this article could have done under the present circumstances in Turkey and especially under Erdogan who could very well take action against the Patriarch?
Hughes: Again, as I said, I am not engaged in Turkish affairs or in matters of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey or Greece or here in the United States.