Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Five journalists assaulted in two weeks

Five journalists assaulted in two weeks

6 assailants arrested for attacking Yavuz Selim Demirağ released while the assailants who attacked Ergin Çevik and Hakan Denizli not caught yet

In the past two weeks in May, five journalists in Turkey have been attacked by unidentified assailants. All five journalists injured by the attacks have filed criminal complaints against the assailants who attacked them. While six people arrested for attacking Yavuz Selim Demirağ have been released, the assailants of Ergin Çevik and Hakan Denizli are still not caught. The suspects arrested for beating journalists İdris Özyol and Sabahattin Önkibar are still being investigated at the police station.

Yavuz Selim Demirağ

Yeniçağ newspaper columnist Yavuz Selim Demirağ was attacked by unidentified assailants in front of his home in Ankara on 10 May 2019.

Demirağ was beaten with baseball bats by a group of five or six people in front of his home after appearing on a TV show with fellow Yeniçağ columnist Murat Ağırel. The assailants escaped the scene in a vehicle. After the attack, Demirağ was taken to a hospital by his family. During the investigation, the license plate belonging to the vehicle was determined to be fake. The six people arrested in relation to the attack were released after giving being questioned by a prosecutor on 13 May.

İdris Özyol

İdris Özyol, an investigative journalist, was attacked by unidentified assailants on 15 May 2019 outside of the Akdeniz’de Yeni Yüzyıl newspaper’s offices in Antalya. The three assailants wounded Özyol in the head and chest by punching and kicking him. Özyol was hospitalized at the Antalya Atatürk Public Hospital.

The assailants who attacked Özyol were arrested on 17 May. It was determined that one of the three assailants was the driver of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Muratpaşa District President Talu Bilgili.

Two days after the attack, Özyol announced on social media the arrest of the perpetrators, saying: “The assailants have been arrested. The address turned out to be the place we said it was all along. They were so at ease and sure of themselves that apparently after the attack they crossed the street and entered the MHP Muratpaşa district building. It has been determined that out of the three, the one wearing a denim shirt, seen in the video footage is Taner Canetek, the driver of MHP Muratpaşa district chairman Talu Bilgili, who had said, ‘I have not instigated it, I have nothing to do with it’.”

It was pointed out in the statement issued by the Mediterranean Branch of the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) that the assault took place after MHP Muratpaşa district chairman Talu Bilgili made threatening remarks. Following a dispute at the Muratpaşa Municipality meeting on the month of May over CHP party members hanging a poster of revolutionary student leaders Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, who were executed on 6 May 1972, Bilgili had made threatening remarks. ÇGD said in its statement: “The threats by Talu Bilgili were reported by many newspapers. İdris Özyol, who had brought up the topic in his columns and social media posts, has received his share of Bilgili’s threats. Today the threats have been realized.”

The outcome in the processing of the arrested assailants is unknown.

Ergin Çevik

Ergin Çevik, the editor-in-chief of Güney Haberci news portal, was beaten by three people in the Aksu district of Antalya in front of a restaurant on 20 May 2019.

According to Çevik, the assailants first asked, “Are you journalist Ergin?” and then punched Çevik continuously for several minutes following his “Yes” response. Çevik, who was injured by the blows, had to be hospitalized. In his statement following the attack, Çevik, who filed an assault report, said that the assailants first came to his office in Aksu and asked his secretary for his whereabouts. Çevik said: “The identity of the suspects is seen on the video footage. I filed a complaint by also handing these recordings to the police.”

ÇGD released a statement following the attack, claiming that Çevik was attacked over his column about the Orion Bazaar in Kundu. In the article, Çevik had written of how Aksu Municipality, run by the ruling AKP, took public funds and handed them out to Orion Bazaar administrators. Orion is a bazaar located in Antalya Kemerağzı-Kundu.

The identities of the three attackers are yet to be identified.

Hakan Denizli

Hakan Denizli, who is the owner of the Adana-based local newspaper Egemen, was injured in a shooting in front of his home on 24 May 2019.

An unidentified person shot Denizli in the leg with a gun while he was headed from his home to his car in the Seyhan district of Adana. Denizli was immediately hospitalized and taken into surgery. Police is working to arrest the assailant.

Sabahattin Önkibar

Odatv news portal columnist Sabahattin Önkibar was assaulted 300 meters away from his home in Ankara’s Angora Evleri suburb on 25 May 2019. Önkibar was beaten by three people who blocked his path with two vehicles and he had to be hospitalized. Önkibar received a 10-day disability report and filed a complaint against the assailants.

In his statement after the attack, Önkibar said: “I was expecting this after the statements I made on Bahçeli. They hit me, I fell on the ground, they started kicking me. The shopkeepers came and intervened. They had two cars. They got on and ran off. I was very attentive. I know who did this and who got it done. I am challenging the one who hired those gangs. I will hold them to account. We immediately informed the police. We filed a complaint. Tomorrow I will notify the police station or the courthouse. They unleashed teenage kids onto me, 19-20 year old kids.”

The Governor of Ankara Vasip Şahin, who called Önkibar to offer his commiserations, said that the vehicle used in the attack was determined to be a rental car. Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office released a statement on 26 May, informing that the three suspects who assaulted Önkibar and the person who rented the car out to them have been arrested. The suspects arrested are under investigation at the Ankara Police Department.