Pro-gov’t media publishing locations of Turkish journalists in exile can lead to serious harm: CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said stated that recent reports published by Turkey’s pro-government media outlets that shared the locations of Turkish journalists living in exile are “unethical and irresponsible” and “could lead to serious harm,” Turkish Minute reported.

“Making journalists targets via the use of pro-government media is an unacceptable move that puts lives at great risk, especially given the history of physical attacks on several Turkish journalists living in exile,” Said further said.

“The leading pro-government Turkish daily newspaper Sabah revealed the locations of at least three exiled Turkish journalists living abroad in separate stories in September and October that portrayed them as criminals on the run,” a CPJ report said.

On Oct. 19, the Sabah daily targeted Bülent Keneş, an academic and a former editor-in-chief of the now-closed English language Today’s Zaman newspaper. 

Keneş is one of the political dissidents whose extradition Turkey is demanding from the Swedish government in exchange for dropping its objection to the Nordic country’s NATO membership.

Sabah published secretly taken photos of Keneş leaving a Stockholm shopping center with a bag in his hand. The paper also revealed Keneş’s address in addition to publishing pictures of his house.

The reporting was done by the daily’s news coordinator, Abdurrahman Şimşek, who is suspected of having ties to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), who also recently targeted two other journalists in exile, Cevheri Güven in Germany and Abdullah Bozkurt in Sweden, revealing their addresses and secretly taken photos on Sabah’s front page. Bozkurt was the former Ankara representative of Today’s Zaman.

The three are among the dozens of people who left Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 to avoid a government-led post-coup crackdown targeting critical journalists as well as non-loyalist citizens. 

In March Ahmet Dönmez, a Turkish journalist living in exile in Sweden and known for his reports on mafia groups associated with Turkish government officials including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was attacked by two men in Stockholm.

Dönmez, who lost consciousness after the attack, which took place in front of his 6-year-old daughter, was treated in intensive care due to an injury to his head.

In 2020 journalist Bozkurt sustained injuries when he was attacked by three men who were waiting for him in front of his house in Stockholm.

In July 2021 another exiled journalist, Erk Acarer, was attacked “with fists and knives” in the courtyard of his apartment building in Berlin.

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