Turkish journalist attacked amid smear campaign on press

Istanbul, December 26, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack on December 16 on Rohat Emekçi, a news anchor and producer with the pro-Kurdish Gün Radio station in Diyarbakir province, in southeast Turkey.

At least one unidentified assailant attacked Emekçi as she left the radio station at around 11 p.m., the journalist told the local press. She said she sustained a broken wrist, a dislocated thumb, and other injuries from the attack. Emekçi also said she believed the attack was linked to her name appearing in a blacklist of 61 journalists published that day in the Islamist, pro-government daily Yeni Akit.

Yeni Akit said that the journalists it had named in the list were terrorists and criminals. The list, which ran with an article headlined “Here is the journalist,” mostly contained the names of imprisoned journalists. The article’s subhead read: “We are exposing the people, whom some call journalists, but who rob banks and fire at the police.”

“We deplore this attack on Rohat Emekçi and call on law enforcement in Diyarbakir to carry out a thorough and timely investigation that brings all responsible to justice,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We urge the Turkish government to publicly condemn Yeni Akit‘s smear campaign against Emekçi and other journalists.”

The accusations made against Rohat Emekçi by Yeni Akit are false. Emekçi has not been accused of such crimes. She served more than seven months in prison on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” in relation to her presence at a 2008 opposition rally. She served her term in full and was released in December 2011.

Emekçi produces and hosts a Sunday news show on Gün Radio, which focuses on the issue of journalist imprisonments in Turkey. On the show, she usually reads letters that journalists have sent from jail and also discusses the issue with guests she invites to the studio. Emekçi has been critical of the government’s policy of imprisoning reporters.

The Yeni Akit accusations pick up on a broad theme pursued by Turkish government officials and their supporters–that journalists who cover the actions and viewpoints of banned groups are themselves guilty of extremist activity. CPJ’s thorough review of the 49 cases of journalists jailed in Turkey on December 1, 2012, found no evidence supporting allegations of criminal activity.

Yeni Akit did not immediately release a statement concerning the attack, and neither did Turkish authorities.

  • For more data and analysis on Turkey, visit CPJ’s Turkey page here.