Journalist temporarily fled Turkey after receiving death threats

On June 23, 2014, Hasnian Kazim, a German journalist who covered Turkey for the German magazine Der Spiegel, told the daily Hürriyet that he had temporarily fled the country after receiving online death threats.

Kazım said he had received more than 10,000 threats, including death threats, and was temporarily called out of Turkey by Der Spiegel over concerns for his safety. He has since returned to Turkey.

All of the threats were in connection to the title of a story Kazım wrote about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The journalist used the quote “Go to hell, Erdoğan!” in a story he wrote about the mine disaster in Soma on May 14, 2014. The quote was in the title of the article and had been taken from a relative of a victim of the Soma mine explosion. The relative had apparently been angered at the prime minister’s botched response to the incident that killed around 300 people, according to the Hürriyet interview and a statement made by Der Spiegel.

“This was not my view, or that of Der Spiegel. It was that particular individual’s. If he had told me, ‘He is a good prime minister. We had a bad accident but he came here and gave us hope,’ I would have written that,” Kazim told Hürriyet.

The pro-government media in Turkey mounted a smear campaign to demonize Kazim, which, the journalist said, led to the slew of threats he received. The daily Yeni Safak accused the journalist of knowingly reporting false facts about Erdoğan. Other news stories implied that Kazım was a spy.