Istanbul, June 22, 2021 – Turkish authorities must investigate the recent attack on journalist İbrahim Akkuş, hold the perpetrators to account, and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, three employees of a construction company in the 19 Mayıs District of the northern province of Samsun attacked Akkuş, a reporter for the nationalist daily Yeniçağ, after he reported on allegedly flawed construction by their company, according to news reports and a report by Yeniçağ.
One of the attackers hit Akkuş on the back and head with a pipe, according to those sources. He sustained bruising on his head and back, and went to a local hospital to document those injuries, which were not severe, he told CPJ in a phone interview and also told the YouTube news channel Medya Koridoru.
The journalist filed a criminal complaint, and authorities arrested and questioned the three suspects and then released them pending an investigation, those reports said. The attackers also filed a counter complaint against Akkuş, accusing him of defamation and attacking them with pepper spray during the confrontation yesterday, the journalist told CPJ.
“Turkish authorities should thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist İbrahim Akkuş, and provide him with security so he can work freely,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Assaults on journalists in Turkey are far too common, and will only cease when authorities show that they take such cases seriously.”
On June 19, Akkuş posted video and pictures on his personal Facebook account alleging that the construction company had poorly built a local municipal building. Akkuş frequently posts independent reporting on his Facebook page, where he has about 1,400 followers.
During the Medya Koridoru interview, Akkuş said that he was at the municipal building yesterday to follow-up on his June 19 reporting when he was attacked. He had previously reported on the construction site in February, and workers there threatened him, saying he was lucky that he had been accompanied to the site by a politician, Akkuş told CPJ.
CPJ emailed the Samsun chief prosecutor’s office and the Bayındırlar Construction Corporation, which is in charge of the construction site, for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.
Akkuş told CPJ that he is worried about his safety but stands by his reporting.
Previously, on June 10, Turkish journalist Ahmet Atmaca was beaten in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, as CPJ documented at the time. Police identified, questioned, and then released four suspects in that attack, according to reports.
Physical attacks on journalists in Turkey are rarely prosecuted, according to CPJ reporting.