Özden Atik- Arzu Kaya - Çağatay Kenarlı - İbrahim Aktürk - Taner Yener / Istanbul, Oct 5 () - One suspect was arrested and six others were released by the court on Oct. 4, in the investigation into the attack on daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, after a public prosecutor responsible for terror and organized crime sought to arrest all seven suspects.
Four men who attacked Hakan in Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood were detained early Oct. 1, the day of the incident. Their interrogation at the police headquarters continued for four days, while the suspects were sent to court at 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 4.
Three more alleged accessories to the beating have also been detained and referred to the court, while all of the seven suspects were questioned by public prosecutor Mehmet Şenay Baygın responsible for terror and organized crime.
The seven suspects were sent to court with a demand for their arrest on the grounds of initiating an organization with the aim to commit crime, making threats, defamation, and battery.
The newly added three suspects were identified to be Soner A., Yahya Kemal G. and Nezih Ö.
Yahya Kemal G. was reported to be a former member of the police’s special forces unit.
The court arrested Ahmet Şengüler for "willful injury" while releasing Kamuran Ergin, Uğur Adıyaman and Fuat Elmas on condition of judicial control until the trial is concluded.
The other suspects were released unconditionally.
Ahmet Hakan was attacked after a weeks-long campaign of threats in Turkey's pro-government media outlets.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also commented on the recent attack on Hakan and said his stance on press freedom “had not changed” since his time as prime minister, stressing that he had always been “against violence” but adding that it is “important for all media groups to show the same sensitivity against all kinds of violence on press.”
“They shouldn’t say ‘I was burned’ only when they are attacked. They should also show the same sensitivity when others also encounter [such attacks],” he said on Oct. 4 in Istanbul before departing for a four-day journey to France, Belgium and Japan.
A day prior to Erdoğan’s statements, dozens of prominent journalists, including Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin, Hürriyet Daily News Editor-in-Chief Murat Yetkin, Hürriyet columnist Tufan Türenç, Hürriyet Digital Coordinator Bülent Mumay, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Cihan News Agency General Manager Abdulhamit Bilici joined the protest in Istanbul against the recent attacks on media outlets and members.
“From having issues about freedom of the press we have arrived at a point where we aren’t even safe. We have serious concerns,” Press Council President Pınar Türenç said in a statement at the march Oct. 3, condemning recent threats and attacks.
Hürriyet’s Istanbul headquarters were pelted with stones by mobs on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8.
Abdurrahim Boynukalın, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), had participated in the first protest in front of the Hürriyet headquarters which turned violent, and he was also filmed while threatening journalists, including Hakan and Ergin.
The violent assault targeting Hakan came days after the attacks on daily Hürriyet.
“We won’t abandon Turkey to these bandits and bullies. We are here to show it,” Ergin said after the Oct. 3 rally of journalists, stressing that similar rallies could be organized every Saturday if necessary.
A number of politicians from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also attended the rally.
“Those who cannot confront criticism with words resort to slander, lies and threats. And when slander is not enough they resort to violence,” HDP deputy Garo Paylan said after the rally.