The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Swedish authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into an attack on journalist Ahmet Dönmez on March 20 and determine if he was targeted for his work.
Ahmet Dönmez, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who has been living in exile in Sweden, was attacked by two men in Stockholm.
“Swedish authorities must swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent attack on exiled Turkish journalist Ahmet Dönmez, determine if it was related to his reporting, and bring all those involved to account,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Swedish authorities must provide security for Dönmez and ensure that he can live and work without fearing for his or his family’s safety.”
According to reports, Dönmez, known for his reports on mafia groups associated with Turkish government officials including President Erdoğan, lost consciousness after the attack.
Dönmez had previously tweeted that he was receiving death threats from crime boss İhsan Hızarcı after saying in a YouTube video that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu provided protection to a mob boss named Ayhan Bora Kaplan.
Releasing a photo of the threats he received as WhatsApp messages, Dönmez said in a tweet on February 19, “The Ankara mafia’s İhsan Hızarcı, who was mentioned in my last video, sent me this threatening message: ‘Don’t feel safe because you’re in Sweden, I’ll have your head cut off within 24 hours.’”
Dönmez was a former Ankara correspondent for the Zaman daily, which was seized and shut down by the Turkish government in 2016 over links to the faith-based Gülen movement.
The newspaper, which had the largest daily circulation — with more than 600,000 subscribers — in Turkey at the time, was confiscated by government officials in the aftermath of a rift between Erdoğan’s AKP government and the movement.