In Turkey, one journalist killed, several newsrooms seized in attempted coup

Istanbul, July 16, 2016 – Turkish soldiers shot and killed one journalist and seized control of several newsrooms last night as factions of the Turkish military attempted to topple the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A night of violence, which was most severe in Ankara, left hundreds of people dead and more than 1,400 injured, according to press reports, but did not immediately appear to have dislodged the government.

Soldiers shot and killed Mustafa Cambaz, a photographer with the pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak, in the Çengelköy neighborhood of Istanbul last night, according to his newspaper. Soldiers also took control of the Ankara studios of the state broadcaster, Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and forced news anchor Tijen Karaş to read a televised statement at gunpoint, she later told journalists.

“We were held hostage for hours,” the daily Hürriyet quoted Karaş as saying. “Our arms were tied behind our backs, we were threatened. Our every move was watched. I was forced by armed people to read the text,” she said, referring to a statement in which the military officers attempting the coup said they were taking power to restore democracy in Turkey.

“We call on Turkish authorities to punish those responsible for killing Mustafa Cambaz to the full extent of the law,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said from New York. “In the aftermath of the attempted coup, we urge the Turkish government to allow journalists to report on news events freely and independently, and to do their utmost to guarantee the safety and security of all journalists.”

Soldiers also took over Istanbul offices of Doğan Media Center, which houses several media outlets, including Hürriyet newspaper, the English-language Hürriyet Daily News, and the television stations CNN Türk and Kanal D, taking several journalists and other staff in the building hostage for part of the night, Hürriyet Daily News reported. Police and civilians loyal to the government detained the soldiers shortly afterwards.

Kanal D and CNN Türk broadcast empty studios while the standoff continued. CNN Türk later published videos of the event on its website.

Several reporters were attacked while covering the events. Unidentified individuals attacked CNN Türk reporter Kenan Şener while he was reporting near the offices of the military’s chief of general staff in Ankara, CNN Türk reported. Police dispersed the assailants, and Şener was not injured, his employer reported.

In Istanbul, civilians protesting the attempted coup beat Selçuk Şamiloğlu, a photojournalist for the daily Hürriyet and the Associated Press, the opposition daily Cumhuriyet reported today.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım stressed the importance of journalist safety at a press conference Saturday afternoon, saying, “Get well, members of the press. The duty of journalists is to transmit the events to our nation.”

CPJ publishes an updated security guide for journalists in the field, which aims to provide expert advice on reporting in difficult and complex situations that will be of use to novice and experienced journalists alike. The full guide is available here.