A Turkish journalist in exile whose recent column focused on state-mafia ties in Turkey was beaten outside his home in Berlin on July 7 by three attackers who threatened to stop writing.
The attack sent a wave of alarm to the growing number of exiled journalists in Germany, who fear further attacks unless the German police and government take a decisive stand on what they call “the arm of the government.” Turkish”. Press associations called on Berlin to thoroughly investigate the attack, including “the possible involvement of Turkish state actors”.
“If there is no decisive action, there could be other attacks ahead to intimidate and silence journalists here,” said Erk Acarer, an investigative journalist specializing in organized crime. , terrorism and religion, over the phone to Al-Monitor. âBut I’m not in the least afraid. These are the last fights of a weakened government. We will not be silenced; we will win.
Can Dundar, another journalist who fled to Germany in 2016 to escape prosecution in Turkey, said the attack was “a direct message in Germany from [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan: I have a long arm. We can attack a dissident journalist even in Berlin.
Dundar was convicted of espionage for publishing a report on Turkish secret services sending weapons to Syrian Islamist rebel groups while he was editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, a pro-secular opposition daily, in 2015. He was sentenced in absentia to 27.5 years in prison for disclosing the government. secrets and âaid to a terrorist organizationâ. A Turkish court announced in June that it would seek a Interpol red notice – for Dundar.
On July 8, as Dundar fervently condemned the Acarer attack, an Istanbul court suspended sentence three years and a fine of about $ 50 to a man who attacked Dundar in Turkey in 2016. Dundar narrowly escaped the gunman, who shot another reporter. “Clearly, a tweet against the government deserves a harsher sentence than a bullet against a journalist, âDundar tweeted.
âIf you want to know who attacked me, just look at those who have been targeted in my columns in recent weeks,â Acarer told Al-Monitor. His recent columns in the left-wing Birgun focus on accusations of corruption, drug trafficking and other shady cases at the heart of the ruling party. He also criticizes the Turkish justice system for its ineffectiveness in prosecuting gangster Sedat Peker’s allegations of state-Mafia ties and a former AKP MP who allegedly received a monthly salary of $ 10,000 from Peker.
While the AKP carefully refrained from naming the AKP politician, Acarer and Birgun openly said it was Metin Kulunk, a former AKP MP close to the nationalist motorcycle gang. Osmanen Germania. The group, which targeted prominent Turkish dissidents living in exile, was banned in Germany in 2018 after eight members were tried on charges of attempted murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and sexual slavery. The trial lasted a year and seven of Osmanen Germania’s defendants were convicted of extortion. Some European Union member states are also considering banning ultranationalist gray wolves, to which the biker gang is reportedly affiliated.
When Kulunk was asked by Oda TV about the alleged salary of $ 10,000, he simply “thanked the reporter for his interest” but gave no response. He has yet to publicly respond to the latest allegations.
“This attack confirms everything we have said and written about the fascist Islamist regime“Acarer said in a video he posted to Twitter on July 8. He made a veiled reference to Kulunk and members of Osmanen Germania, saying,” The answer to the question [of who the aggressor is] sits next to the $ 10,000 question.
Deniz Yuksel, a German journalist arrested and held in solitary confinement for a year between 2017 and 2018 in Turkey, wrote in Die Welt that the attackers could be linked to Osmanen or the Turkish intelligence services or simply be one of ” many Erdogan supporters who could strike without permission “. . ”
Acarer is the author of several books, including one on the link between the Islamic State and Turkey. He settled in Germany with emergency assistance from Reporters Without Borders and faces several charges in Turkey, including covering the funeral of a Turkish intelligence officer who was killed in Libya and buried discreetly. Acarer also hosts a news program on Turkish TV channel Arti, based in Cologne, founded by opposition journalists in exile in Germany.
Arti TV will meet with government and opposition deputies as well as press groups to demand a decisive stand against such attacks, producer Ayse Yildirim told Al-Monitor.
“We are concerned that this is not a one-off attack and that similar attacks against us continue,” she said. âWe came here to escape the repression. We don’t want to feel unsafe or threatened here while we are practicing our profession. ”
âThe fact that a Turkish journalist criticizes the government is attacked in berlin is worrying and could intimidate other journalists in exile in the country. The authorities must investigate whether the attack is linked to his work as a journalist, “Reporters Without Borders director general Christian Mihr said in a tweeted statement, expressing concern at the” repeated “threats and attempted intimidation. against journalists in exile in Germany.
Other press groups, from PEN to the International Press Institute, have also called on the German government to find the author. âThe attack on Erk Acarerâ¦ must be the subject of an immediate and full investigation, including with regard to the possible involvement of Turkish state actors. … Germany must make it clear that it will not tolerate targeted or politically motivated attacks against critical journalists on its soil, and it must ensure that there are serious consequences for those who incite, organize and carry out such attacks, whether in Germany or TurkeyÂ», Said Renan Akyavas, IPI Turkey program coordinator.