Istanbul, June 10, 2021 – Turkish authorities should conduct a swift and through investigation into the attack on journalist Ahmet Atmaca and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
This morning, a group of people in the southeastern city of Gaziantep attacked Atmaca, a reporter for the pro-government Demirören News Agency, while he was at a local morgue covering the case of a man who had recently been killed in a knife fight, according to a report by his employer, a statement by the Gaziantep Journalists Society, a local press group, and video of the attack published by the newspaper Hürriyet.
While the victim was being transferred from the morgue, a group people nearby began hitting and kicking Atmaca, and continued beating him until his colleagues and police intervened, according to those sources, which said that the journalist was hospitalized after the attack and was not in critical condition.
Atmaca filed a criminal complaint concerning the attack and police have opened an investigation, his employer reported.
“Turkey desperately needs to improve its track record regarding impunity for those who physically attack and hurt journalists who are carrying out their work,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Today’s attack on reporter Ahmet Atmaca is a perfect opportunity for authorities to show that they can conduct fast and thorough investigations into such assaults, and hold those responsible to account.”
Atmaca’s recent work for Demirören News Agency includes news coverage of local traffic accidents, government events, COVID-19 measures, and notable deaths.
CPJ was unable to immediately determine the details of the injuries Atmaca sustained in the attack, or what sparked the violence. CPJ called Demirören News Agency for comment and sent it a message via messaging app, but did not immediately receive any replies.
Physical attacks on journalists in Turkey are rarely prosecuted, as CPJ has documented.
CPJ emailed the Gaziantep police for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.