German police warn Turkish editor about hit list targeting journalists in exile

Photo: Artı Gerçek

The German Federal Police have warned Celal Başlangıç, the editor-in-chief of Artı TV and the Artı Gerçek news website, of a planned assassination targeting him based on a hit list including the names of 55 Turkish journalists living in exile, Turkish Minute reported, citing Artı Gerçek.

The officers on July 16 went to the journalist’s house in Cologne and told him his life was in danger. They also confirmed the existence of a hit list including names of journalists resident in various countries that are critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Referring to a hit list of 21 Turkish journalists living in Europe and North America that was released earlier in July by a pro-government social media account, Başlangıç said they had known about the 21-person list and then found out about another list including the names of 43 journalists.

“The German police … informed me about a third list that had the names of 55 journalists, including me. Based on what the police said, we understood that an investigation was underway. … It looks like the German police take the case seriously,” Başlangıç told Artı Gerçek.

Meanwhile, Erk Acarer, a Turkish journalist critical of Erdoğan’s government who has been living in exile in Germany, on Tuesday announced on Twitter that he had received a threat, a piece of paper with “You just wait” written on it, which he said was wrapped around a boiled egg and thrown into the garden of his house in Berlin.

“The AKP-MHP [the far-right Nationalist Movement Party] bloc and its gangs and the German government, which I think has been lax in taking the necessary measures, will be responsible for any new [attacks] that target me,” Acarer said.

The journalist was referring to an attack that took place outside his home on July 6 by three men who warned him to stop writing, according to local media reports.

Deutsche Welle Turkish service on Wednesday reported that Berlin police said, following the threat received by Acarer, that the scope of the investigation into the attack that targeted him early in July had been expanded, saying they would investigate if there was any connection between the attack and the recent threat.

The name of the social media account, which on July 11 published the names of 21 journalists in exile and threatened to kill them, refers to a group linked to the notorious gendarmerie intelligence unit JITEM.

JITEM’s existence was denied by the state for years. It was later officially acknowledged by former prime ministers Bülent Ecevit and Mesut Yılmaz. It has been linked to the disappearance and execution of Kurdish activists, politicians and businesspeople throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

There have been recent complaints in Europe by government critics concerning death threats by people allegedly linked to JITEM.

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