Cemil Şanlı has reported threats and abuse to French police after he covered Kurdish issues for independent broadcaster Le Média TV. (Photo: Le Média TV)

French journalist Cemil Şanlı receives death threat, accosted outside home

Berlin, March 16, 2023 — French authorities should thoroughly investigate threats and insults received by journalist Cemil Şanlı and take immediate steps to ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On the morning of March 2, Şanlı, a broadcast journalist for the privately owned independent news outlet Le Média TV, received a handwritten death threat in the mailbox of his home, he wrote on Twitter and told CPJ by phone and email.

Later that day, he filed a criminal complaint with local police in a suburb of Paris reporting the threat as well as an incident about a month before in which two people with their faces covered accosted him outside of his home and insulted him, according to the journalist and news reports.

Şanlı told CPJ that he believed the threats were related to his coverage of Kurdish issues, including the disproportionate impact of the February earthquake in Turkey on local Kurds, and pro-Kurdish demonstrations in Paris after a man who targeted “non-Europeans” shot and killed three people in a Kurdish cultural center in December.  

“French authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the threats received by journalist Cemil Şanlı, and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Threatening a journalist because of his coverage is completely unacceptable, and police must show they take Şanlı’s complaint seriously and ensure his safety.”

Şanlı told CPJ that starting in December 2022 he has received insults, threats, and intimidating messages on his Twitter and YouTube accounts, where commenters have called him a “terrorist” and threatened him to beware of the Grey Wolves, a Turkish ultranationalist group banned in France for anti-Kurdish discrimination. That month, an unidentified person yelled insults at Şanlı and threw a projectile that hit him in the shoulder while the journalist was riding his scooter.

Şanlı told CPJ that police have taken his testimony but not provided further updates as of March 15. CPJ emailed questions to the police office responsible for the investigation but received no reply.