Orlando Station Under Fire for Report Tying Sheriff to Terrorist Organization

By Kevin Eck 

A local sheriff is upset with Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV after the station reported he accepted an award from an organization with alleged ties to terrorism.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who is seeking re-election on Tuesday, and the organization that gave him the award, the Atlantic Institute Central Florida, say the Orlando ABC affiliate’s report is misleading, wrong and politically motivated.

A couple of weeks after Demings got the award from the Institute, WFTV reported the Institute is led by Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is accused of being behind a coup attempt in Turkey.


“Sheriff Demings believes the story was an example of poor journalism and was also politically motivated against him,” Capt. Angelo Nieves of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told The Sentinel. “He was solely there to receive an award for his community service.”

But Huseyin Peker, executive director of the Institute, says the report is wrong. Peker says Gulen “has no relationship to the institute.”

The Institute has also given awards to local community leaders including the president of the University of Central Florida.

“The reporter posed some questions in an email to me, regarding the Atlantic Institute and Fethullah Gulen and accusations that there were reports they were affiliated with terrorism,” said Nieves. “I requested confirmation via email regarding WFTV’s assertions. I then engaged them in phone calls regarding this developing story and cautioned them regarding the need for accuracy and factual information regarding any characterization of the parties they were reporting on. They were also cautioned it was inaccurate to report the sheriff had received recognition from an organization ‘affiliated with terrorism.'”

“It was unfortunate to witness that the story related to our organization was aired without our perspectives on the issues,” said Peker.

We asked WFTV for comment but have not heard back.

Here’s the WFTV report: