Cengiz Altun

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Cengiz Altun, a correspondent for the weekly newspaper Yeni Ülke, was shot five times in the back of the head while he was on his way to work in Batman, Turkey, on February 24, 1992. The newspaper’s editor said that Altun received death threats before he was killed. Colleagues suspected that his reporting on the counter-guerrillas, state forces allegedly active in southeastern Turkey, may have prompted the attack. He had written an article on that subject for Yeni Ülke‘s February 2-8 issue.

Born in 1968, Altun was 23 years old and studying to be a mechanic while reporting for Yeni Ülke, according to an investigation into his death published by the independent news website Bianet.

In 1993, Turkish police apprehended a suspected named İsmail Emsen, whom they accused of possessing the gun used to kill Altun; in his testimony, Emsen said the weapon was given to him by his brother, Metin. İsmail was solely charged with possessing a firearm without a license, and was released; police never looked for Metin, according to that investigation.

The journalist had received threats from local police and the Turkish Hezbollah, a local Islamist group not related to the group in Lebanon, according to Bianet, which identified İsmail Emsen as a Hezbollah supporter. Police also repeatedly detained Altun and abused him in custody, his brother told Bianet.

The journalist’s brother was quoted in that investigation saying that Altun was armed at the time he was attacked, but did not fire his weapon and died as he was being rushed to a hospital.

The journalist has filed several complaints to Batman authorities about threats received, the last one in November 1991, but he was repeatedly ignored, according to another report by Bianet.

CPJ emailed the Interior Ministry of Turkey, which oversees the police, for comment but received no reply.