Ahmet Hakan, a popular Turkish TV journalist and columnist, was attacked and beaten by a group of attackers in front of his house when he returned home late at night after the transmission of his regular TV program. He was hospitalized early on Wednesday morning with a broken nose and rib.
Freedom For Journalists Platform (GOP), which includes AEJ Turkey, condemned the attack in front of the offices of the Istanbul government, protesting that the assault on press freedom in Turkey has now reached a stage in which even the lives of journalists are at risk.
Hakan was threatened recently by an MP of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with being beaten in front of his house, and was also warned by a pro-government columnist that he would be killed.
Hakan, a former Islamist journalist, began to work in the mainstream daily Hurriyet several years ago. He adopted a more moderate position and has been making a very popular TV debate program named “Neutral Zone” on CNN Turk news channel.
Both Hakan and Hurriyet daily have been prominent targets of vitriolic verbal attacks by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK Party. During a crowd attack against Hurriyet on Sept 8th AKP Istanbul MP Abdurrahim Boynukalin pointed out Hakan to the crowd saying “I wanted to go in front of his house. He is a great coward. Our mistake was not to beat these people.”
Sedat Ergin, editor-in-chief of daily Hurriyet, release d a photograph to the media showing the injured Hakan outside the hospital at 04:00 local time this morning. Hakan himself was quoted as saying: “We will never be intimidated by such attacks. We are not scared. We will continue to walk the way that we know”.
Ergin added that the attack was clearly planned, and the 4 attackers followed Hakan to his house after his TV program yesterday night. “This is the result of the threatening aggressive language targeting journalists. Those who use this language should immediately stop it,” Ergin said.
Police detained the four attackers, who reportedly told police that they had a street fight with Hakan who had also attacked them. However, video recordings of the incident showed that the attackers had followed Hakan to his home all the way from the CNN Turk building.
Journalists’ organizations and thousands of people condemned the attack. Freedom For Journalists Platform (GOP) declared that October would also be ‘a month of prosecutions’ because each day of the month there would be a prosecution of some journalists, most of whom were accused of insulting President Erdogan.