Document shows gov’t ignored attacked journalist Hakan’s security request
ISTANBULHürriyet columnist and CNNTürk program host Ahmet Hakan legally requested that the Turkish government appoint a permanent security detail 17 days before he was targeted in a physical attack on Oct. 1, legal documents show.
Hakan was hospitalized with broken bones in his nose and ribs after he was beaten by three assailants. Another assailant targeted his private bodyguard, who was commissioned by daily Hürriyet.
The attack was preceded last month by a physical attack on daily Hürriyet’s headquarters in Istanbul by pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) protesters on the night of Sept. 6. AKP deputy Abdurrahim Boynukalın was filmed amid that attack delivering a fiery speech in front of the Hürriyet office, and he was also filmed in another video explicitly threatening Hakan.
The veteran Hürriyet journalist has also been a regular target in Turkey’s pro-AKP media outlets.
“Like schizophrenia patients, you still think you are living in the days when Hürriyet was running the country. But we could crush you like a fly if we wanted. We have been merciful until today and you are still alive,” pro-government Star newspaper columnist Cem Küçük had written in a Sept. 9 article, addressing Hakan. A criminal complaint against Küçük has been filed since the piece appeared.
Istanbul Governor admits shortcomings in phone call
After the threats, Hakan’s lawyer Turgut Kazan spoke on the phone with Interior Minister Selami Altınok, personally requesting an official bodyguard due to the “imminent threat,” daily Hürriyet has learned.
Another lawyer, Aslı Kazan, also sent a written application to the Istanbul Governor’s Office on Sept. 14 to repeat Hakan’s request for a permanent bodyguard.
At the time Hakan was attacked on Oct. 1, the government had yet to respond to the request. Officials told lawyers that the request would be reviewed after the Eid al-Adha holiday, which ended in Turkey on Sept. 28.
The Istanbul Governor's Office released a written statement on Oct.1. "Upon his request, [he] was granted 'security upon call,' but our investigation reveals that he did not request security on the day of the attack," the statement read. It did not elaborate why a permanent security detail was not granted.
Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin called Ahmet Hakan after the attack. "We think we were a little late in taking precautions. We will now take all precautions to protect you. Get well soon," he said, according to a source.
Interior Minister Selami Altınok, on the other hand, later said that Hakan's request was actually approved two days ago, but "the procedure took longer" to appoint the bodyguard.
All suspects of the Sept. 6 and Sept. 8 attacks on the Hürriyet headquarters were released after briefly being detained by police and no legal proceedings had been launched against MP Boynukalın as of Oct. 1.