Turkish mafia leader threatens newspaper boss, columnists over report

Notorious mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı threatened Karar daily boss Mehmet Aydın and six columnists in a written statement posted on his “official” Instagram account on Friday, the Diken news website reported.

Çakıcı targeted the Karar daily over their news story on his previous statement about the June 24 elections, titled “Insolent remarks to [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan,” calling on his “fans” to punish the journalists.

While slamming the newspaper for the headline, Çakıcı mentioned the names of Mehmet Aydın, the owner of Karar, and journalists and columnists İbrahim Kiras, Hakan Albayrak, Etyen Mahçupyan, Akif Beki, Gürbüz Özaltınlı and Ali Bayramoğlu.

“I always notify the people before I hurt them. They will be punished in Turkey or abroad by those who love me. This is my call for them who previously told me that they can shoot anyone and even die for me. They should do their duty now,” Çakıcı said in his open letter, which was later deleted.

Çakıcı accused the journalists of supporting the “evil alliance,” referring to the “Nation’s Alliance” formed by four opposition parties against the ‘People’s Alliance’ of President Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). “The enemy of the [People’s] alliance is my enemy, too,” he said.

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Alaattin Çakıcı. “An investigation has been launched into Alaattin Çakıcı for his threatening remarks in a public statement against a group of journalists for ‘threatening with death by using the force an armed organization,’ ‘threatening someone to spread fear and anxiety in the public’ and ‘inciting someone to commit a crime’ as listed in Article 106/2-d of the Turkish Penal Code,” Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement late Friday.

Meanwhile, two of Karar daily columnists, whose names were included on an apparent death list published on social media by Çakıcı, have announced they will stop writing for the Islamist newspaper. Columnists Elif Çakır and Etyen Mahçupyan both said that their decision was not influenced by the death threats on Friday, the same day they surfaced, BirGün daily reported.

Çakır has said her departure from the newspaper will be temporary, while Mahçupyan has said he arrived at a mutual agreement with the newspaper not to write “for a period.”

Alaattin Çakıcı had praised Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and accused Erdoğan of being “less nationalist” in a previous statement made after the elections. “Pray for Mr. Bahçeli and his colleagues as you pray for your parents. You can do whatever you want to me,” Çakıcı said to Erdoğan, who has been re-elected president.

In May, Bahçeli called for a general amnesty for notorious mafia leaders Çakıcı and Kürşat Yılmaz, who were part of the “Grey Wolves,” a term MHP members and supporters use to describe themselves.

However, Erdoğan has repeatedly rejected Bahçeli’s call. Bahçeli also paid a visit to gang leader Çakıcı in a hospital on May 23.

Following Çakıcı’s threats, İstanbul police have increased security around the Karar daily’s building, while columnists have been assigned bodyguards.

In 1995, Çakıcı was convicted of instigating the murder of his wife in front of their son, Onur Özbizerdik. He was put on trial when he returned to Turkey and found guilty of instigating his ex-wife’s murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison. He was also convicted of several crimes including organizing and leading a crime syndicate for the purpose of generating profit, instigating murder, instigating injury, and insulting President Erdoğan.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 243 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 27, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishmimnute.com)

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