Ankara, Sep 18 () - Former Turkish President Abdullah Gül has expressed regret over threats by a deputy of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) against journalists, while also declaring attacks against daily Hürriyet as “saddening and wrong.”
“I was very saddened and I couldn’t countenance the involvement of a lawmaker in something like this. It is something incredible” Gül said late Sept. 17 when asked to comment on threatening marks issued by AKP Istanbul deputy Abdürrahim Boynukalın earlier this week.
In the footage, Boynukalın can be heard threatening Hürriyet journalists and expressing his regret that they “had never beat them in the past.”
“They had never had a beating before. Our mistake was that we never beat them in the past. If we had beaten them...” Boynukalın said in the video, mocking Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin and columnist Ahmet Hakan for their reactions as approximately 200 assailants smashed the newspaper building’s front windows with stones and clubs. He also revealed in the video that he mulled waiting for Hakan in front of his house to confront him.
“These are saddening,” said Gül, one of the founding members of the AKP, in an interview aired on private NTV news channel, referring to rising pressure on the press in Turkey and in particular the vandal attacks against Hürriyet daily. “These are all wrong. Turkey shouldn’t be experiencing and speaking of these. These would harm everybody. Such an image of Turkey shouldn’t be displayed. One shouldn’t let this happen. The freedom of press and expression is one of the most important issues,” Gül said. “The press should be decent, too. Not everything is free. But the harming of freedom of expression and press has an impact on everything.”
Boynukalın attended a demonstration in front of Hürriyet’s Istanbul headquarters on Sept. 6 which later turned violent. The headquarters was attacked for the second time within days by pro-government demonstrators who accused the paper of misquoting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Earlier this week, authorities raided the premises of the magazine Nokta and detained its managing editor for a cover satirizing Erdoğan, while prosecutors opened a probe against the Doğan Media Group, which owns Hürriyet and other outlets, for alleged “terrorist propaganda” over its coverage of the conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).