Veteran journalist faces investigation for ‘targeting’ father of slain soldier

Can Ataklı

An investigation has been launched into veteran journalist Can Ataklı due to his statements targeting the father of a Turkish soldier who was recently killed in an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, Turkish Minute reported.

Turkey has operated several dozen military posts in northern Iraq for the past 25 years in its decades-old war against the PKK, a group designated by Turkey and much of the international community as a terrorist organization.

Twelve soldiers were killed in two separate attacks on Turkish military bases in northern Iraq on Dec. 23 and 24, according to a statement from the Turkish defense ministry.

Mehmet Aslan, father of Kemal Aslan, one of the slain soldiers, who spoke at his son’s funeral in the eastern province of Elazığ on Dec. 24, said he does not forgive those who advocate for the freedom of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who are currently in prison.

The father was referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose former leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had promised in March 2022 that he would release the two men if his party came to power in the 2023 elections.

Demirtaş, the former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been behind bars since November 2016 on politically motivated charges.

Kavala, who faced charges that ranged from espionage and financing protests in 2013 to taking part in a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, was arrested in October 2017 and sentenced to life in prison in 2022 for allegedly trying to topple Erdoğan’s government.

The two men remain in prison despite decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) calling for their release.

Commenting on Aslan’s remarks about Demirtaş and Kavala in a video he released on his YouTube channel on Monday, Ataklı criticized the soldier’s father, saying that even if he is the father of a martyr, he does not have the right to speak in such a way against Demirtaş and Kavala.

According to Turkish media reports, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that an investigation had been launched into the veteran journalist for allegedly “inciting hatred and hostility among the people” due to his recent remarks.

On Tuesday morning Ataklı made a statement on X, formerly Twitter, saying that nine seconds of his 22-minute video had been taken out of context by the pro-government media in an attempt to launch a smear campaign against him.

Ataklı said that in the video he had criticized people who sought to exploit soldiers’ funerals to incite hatred. He apologized to all families of martyrs in Turkey who might have been upset watching only that particular part of his speech.

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