Exiled Turkish journalist attacked in Stockholm suburb

Abdullah Bozkurt’s photo after the incident shows he received blows to his head and face.

Sweden-based Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt was attacked yesterday near his home in Stockholm, hospitalizing him for injuries sustained, the Nordic Monitor reported.

Bozkurt and his team of journalists in Sweden run Nordic Monitor news web site which provides exclusive and critical coverage on Turkey and exposes the clandestine activities of the notorious Turkish intelligence agency.

“Within minutes of getting out of my home, one of the three men approached me behind and unexpectedly knocked me down. As I fell to the asphalt pavement, they started punching me in the face and on the head” Bozkurt said, adding that the perpetrators then ran away.

The Swedish police called in to investigate the incident while paramedics arrived at the home of the journalist who was later advised to go to the emergency room nearby for a more thorough check-up.

Bozkurt sustained injuries in the face, head, arms and legs from the violent attack occurred in the middle of day near a parking place next to his home in Spånga suburb of Stockholm.

The journalist said he did not know the attackers, did not know the motivation behind their violent act. But he said he suspects it may have been linked to his investigative reporting about mighty and powerful figures in Turkey that have a long arm reaching all the way to Sweden.

“Hopefully the investigation will reveal the reasons for this violent attack,” Bozkurt said. He added that he had informed the Swedish Union of Journalists (Journalistförbundet).

The journalist has been living in Sweden on political asylum protection since 2016 when the Turkish government led by an authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched an unprecedented crackdown on independent and critical media, jailing hundreds of journalists and media workers, shutting down nearly 200 media outlets.

Bozkurt said he has regularly been receiving threats online, mostly from Turkey. In one case, Cem Küçük, a Turkish government propagandist, openly called on a TV program for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to assassinate Bozkurt. He said his home address in Stockholm is known by Turkish authorities and asked for the ‘extermination’ of the journalist.

The Swedish Union of Journalists (Journalistförbundet), a professional organization that promotes press freedom and advocates rights of journalists in Sweden, was informed about the incident. Bozkurt is a member of Journalistförbundet.

Turkey is the worst jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 173 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 168 journalists who are wanted on terrorism charges have been forced to live in exile.

According to the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index Turkey ranks 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom and Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.

The authoritarian government of President Erdoğan has seized nearly 200 media outlets including the country’s largest daily as well as its most popular TV networks since 2015.

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