Istanbul, Sep 8 () - The International Press Institute (IPI) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) has called on members of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to condemn the destructive attack on the headquarters of daily Hürriyet by a crowd of stone-throwing AKP supporters angered by its reporting on a comment by the Turkish president.
In a written statement on Sept. 7, the IPI said “an important line has been crossed” with the attack, which occurred late Sept. 6, causing material damage at Hürriyet’s headquarters.
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said, “The events of the last 24 hours mark a dangerous escalation in an already troubling campaign of harassment and intimidation targeting independent media in Turkey ahead of the Nov. 1 election.”
He continued, “An important line has been crossed. An online campaign of intimidation targeting a media outlet in Turkey is linked with subsequent actual, physical violence against that outlet in the real world. It’s fortunate that no one was injured yesterday [Sept. 6], but the next time we may not be so lucky. AKP leaders should denounce this attack and all those involved, and they should state clearly and strongly that violence is not an acceptable response.”
Ellis also said the criminal case initiated against Hürriyet for allegedly “twisting” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks, instead of violent protesters, made it more likely Turkey’s voters might not receive the news they need to make fully informed decisions at the polls.
“If this case continues, it sends the message that any journalist in Turkey who reports on something the president says publicly can face criminal charges if the president or his supporters decide they don’t like the manner in which it was presented,” he commented. “That is a chilling message, particularly ahead of an election, and extremely harmful to democracy. We urge prosecutors to drop this case and to focus their attention on real threats: Those who use violence to silence people with whom they disagree and those who use technology to incite such attacks.”