Attack on Hürriyet columnist condemned after latest blow to press freedom in Turkey
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoNational press bodies have condemned the attack on veteran Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, who has long been targeted by politically-motivated threats and was injured after an assault in front of his home early on Oct. 1.
The Press Council has said in a written statement that the assault was a “despicable attack on human rights, democracy, press freedom, freedom of expression, and citizens’ right to get news.”
It added that journalists who do not feel security of life are “not free from any perspective.”
“The government is the [authority] that governs the country. Therefore, responsibility for this [attack] lies directly with the government. We call on the Interior Ministry and the Governor’s Office to say ‘stop’ to this vandalism,” the statement continued.
The Press Council also mentioned that pressure and intimidation of media outlets and journalists had lately started to be expressed via certain columnists, implying a reference to Star newspaper columnist Cem Küçük.
Küçük had targeted Hakan openly in his Sept. 7 column, writing “we could crush you like a fly if we wanted. We have been merciful until today and you are still alive.”
The Press Council statement said “attacks that aim at intimidation do not frighten or discourage real journalists.”
“When talking about press freedom, we have come to the point where we do not have life security. We are very worried,” it added.
Meanwhile, the Turkey Journalists Federation (TGF) also condemned the attack on Hakan, saying it is an “assault on press freedom.”
“Freedom of press and expression, which are being almost completely abolished, received another strike with the violent attack on daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan in front of his house,” read the TGF’s statement issued on Oct. 1.
“Ahmet Hakan was openly threatened before the attack and he was then beaten in front of his house,” the statement added.
This was an apparent reference to Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Abrurrahim Boynukalın, who was among the group of around 200 pro-AKP protesters who physically attacked the daily Hürriyet headquarters in Istanbul on Sept. 6 and was filmed in a video explicitly threatening Hakan.
The TGF statement also said the “real instigators” of the attack need to be found and punished.