Istanbul, August 19, 2021 — Turkish authorities must swiftly and transparently investigate the death of journalist Aydın Taş, the Committee to Protect journalists said today.
On August 8, police officers found Taş’ body at the Ankara office of the Crimean News Agency (QHA), a Turkish nationalist news agency where he worked as the Turkey director, according to news reports, a report by his employer, and two of the journalist’s colleagues, who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns.
Police entered the Crimean News Agency’s office after people close to Taş were unable to reach him, and found the journalist on the floor with a rope around his neck, according to those reports, which said that his death had been classified as a suicide.
The two colleagues who spoke to CPJ said they did not believe Taş had killed himself, saying they believed he had not reason to do so. One of those colleagues said that Turkish police had not interviewed any Crimean News Agency employees about the journalist’s death.
“Turkish authorities must thoroughly investigate the death of journalist Aydın Taş, and transparently release the results of such an investigation to the public,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Authorities must seek to determine whether Taş’ death was connected to his journalism.”
A preliminary autopsy found no bruises, wounds, or cuts on Taş’ body, those news reports said.
Taş’ recent writing included criticism of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, Russia’s occupation of Crimea, and President Ilhan Aliyev’s leadership in Azerbaijan, according to CPJ’s review of his work. That report criticizing Aliyev showed that Taş supported former President Ebulfez Elcibey.
The journalist’s colleagues told CPJ that they were not aware of any threats against him. They said he was making plans for the near future, including a trip to Ukraine.
CPJ emailed the Ankara Police for comment but did not receive any reply.