On March 23, Altan Sancar, a reporter for Diken and Özgürüz Radyo, was threatened by an unidentified man carrying a gun. (Sancar)

Political reporter Altan Sancar threatened at gunpoint in Turkey

Istanbul, March 24, 2022 – Turkish authorities should thoroughly investigate a recent threat against journalist Altan Sancar, determine whether it was related to his work, and ensure the journalist’s safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On Wednesday around 12:30 a.m., Sancar, a reporter for independent news website Diken and independent online radio Özgürüz Radyo, was driving alone in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on the road to the Eğil district to visit family, when he stopped because another car was blocking the road, according to news reports and Sancar, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

Two unidentified men got out of the car and one approached Sancar, who remained in his vehicle, and showed the journalist the handle of a gun tucked in his pants by lifting his jacket up, according to those sources. The man implied Sancar was in dangerous territory and said the journalist should be “smart,” before he and the other man returned to car and drove away.

“Turkish authorities should do their best to identify the aggressors in this case in order to ensure the safety of journalist Altan Sancar, determine if he was targeted for his work, and bring the responsible parties to justice,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Turkish authorities should take threats against journalists seriously and investigate the matter thoroughly because impunity encourages the aggressors.”

Sancar covers politics in the capital Ankara, where he is based, and is involved in various documentary work and research projects about minorities in Turkey, the journalist told CPJ, adding that he believes the threat was in retaliation to his political reporting.

Sancar filed a criminal complaint with the local prosecutor’s office on March 23, he told CPJ, adding that he was concerned for his safety. CPJ emailed the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Eğil for comment but received no immediate reply.

In 2020, an anonymous Twitter account threatened Sancar that “death will find you” while he was working for critical online outlet Artı TV, he told CPJ. The journalist said nothing came out of the criminal complaint he filed then, and he has continued to receive threats on social media.