Swedish-based Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt was attacked yesterday near his home in Stockholm, Nordic Monitor reported.
Bozkurt and his team of journalists in Sweden run the Nordic Monitor website, which provides exclusive and critical coverage on Turkey and exposes the clandestine activities of the notorious Turkish intelligence agency.
“Within minutes of leaving my home, one of three men approached me from behind and knocked me down. As I fell to the ground, they started punching me in the face and head,” Bozkurt said, adding that the perpetrators then ran away.
The Swedish police were called in to investigate the incident, while paramedics arrived at the home of the journalist, who was later advised to go to a nearby emergency room for a more thorough examination.
Bozkurt sustained injuries to the face, head, arms and legs from the attack, which occurred in the middle of the day near a parking lot next to his home in the Stockholm suburb of Spånga.
The journalist said he did not know the attackers or their motivation. But he said he suspects it may have been linked to his investigative reporting on powerful figures in Turkey whose long arm reaches all the way to Sweden.
“Hopefully the investigation will reveal the reasons for this attack,” Bozkurt said. He added that he had informed the Swedish Union of Journalists (Journalistförbundet).
Bozkurt has been living in Sweden under political asylum protection since 2016, when the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched an unprecedented crackdown on independent and critical media, jailing hundreds of journalists and media workers and 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 show for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to assassinate Bozkurt. He said his home address in Stockholm was known by Turkish authorities and demanded the “extermination” of the journalist.
Journalistförbundet, a professional organization that promotes press freedom and advocates for the 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 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 is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.
The Erdoğan government has seized nearly 200 media outlets including the country’s largest daily as well as its most popular TV networks since 2015.