WAN-IFRA expresses concern over attack on Hürriyet columnist in letter to Erdoğan
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countriesThe World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum have expressed grave concern over the violent assault on daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan in a letter addressing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"We are seriously concerned that these incidents, ahead of elections in November, form part of a systematic campaign by your government and its supporters to intimidate independent media," the letter dated Oct. 2 said, after listing recent attacks targeting daily Hürriyet, its publishers and its journalists.
Four men, arriving in a black Honda at 12:35 a.m. on Oct. 1, attacked Hakan in Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood as he was returning home after hosting his program on CNNTürk television.
"We respectfully call on you to take all possible steps to guarantee that those responsible for the attack on Mr Coşkun are brought swiftly to justice. Equally, we urge you to ensure the intimidation of Hürriyet and other media is halted, and that all journalists detained for their reporting activities are immediately released," the letter said.
The campaign targeting independent media in Turkey was described in the letter as "a breach of the right to freedom of expression" in violation of numerous international conventions.
"As elections approach, there is an even greater need for free and independent media and we ask that your Party and its supporters fully respect freedom of expression and that you take all possible measures to ensure the safety of journalists," it added.
Three of the four men who were arrested after assault targeting Hakan were revealed as members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdoğan.
Amid pressure from national and international public over the attack, the AKP expelled the three suspects on Oct. 2.