Threatened, beaten, shot: Turkish journalists in the crosshairs


ANKARA: After being assaulted 28 times during his career—punched, kicked and beaten with bats—Turkish journalist Hakan Denizli thought he had seen it all.

But for the 29th attack, they came with a gun, and they did so while he was taking his four-year-old grandchild to daycare.

Denizli, who edits the Egemen daily newspaper in the southern city of Adana, is matter-of-fact about it: “I got into the car and the window was open. They came, shot me in the leg and ran away.”

That incident in May came amid a spate of assaults that has seen six journalists targeted in as many weeks.

Many blame the worsening atmosphere on politicians, who regularly lash out at individual journalists.

“If you don’t know your place, the people will hit you in the back of your neck,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan snapped after a TV presenter on Turkey’s Fox news channel asked whether people would protest rising prices in December.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, and ranks it 157th out of 180 countries in the world for press freedom.

There are 142 journalists currently behind bars in Turkey, according to the P24 press freedom website. Most are detained under a two-year state of emergency imposed after the 2016 failed coup.

The government says nobody was arrested for work as a journalist, but RSF says violence against the media often goes without punishment or even criticism.