Bağdu, 46, was shot multiple times by two unidentified men on a motorcycle who approached him from the back, according to local reports. Bağdu had been on his bicycle delivering issues of the pro-Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat in Adana. He sought treatment at a local hospital, but died a few hours later, reports said.
Zeynel Bulut, an editor at Azadiya Welat, told CPJ that the newspaper frequently receives threats via phone and email. Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK, according to CPJ research. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations.
Bulut noted that Kurdish journalists have been subjected to violence since the 1990s. At least 18 journalists were killed in Turkey in the 1990s, most of whom worked for pro-Kurdish news outlets, according to CPJ research.
CPJ research shows that dozens of Kurdish journalists have faced charges and prison time in recent years for allegedly participating in anti-government plots. Kurdish individuals who distribute Kurdish newspapers have often been targeted alongside journalists, according to news reports.
The Kurdish media have reported on recent events in the Syrian Kurdish cities of Rojova and Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, from what is perceived to be an anti-Justice and Development Party (AKP) perspective as well as an anti-Islamic State perspective, Bulut told CPJ.
"We have not seen any of our friends killed for a long time, but since the Kurdish press was exposing what has been going on Rojova and lately Kobani, some circles got very disturbed with that," Bulut told CPJ.
Bağdu’s family told the press that he had no personal enemies. Police said they were investigating Bağdu’s murder.
According to CPJ research, in 2010, Metin Alataş, a reporter for Azadiya Welat, was found hanging from a tree in an orchard in the Hadirli district of Adana where he had gone to distribute copies of the newspaper. At the time, staff at the daily and Alataş’ family disputed the official ruling of suicide. Alataş had received death threats.
Bağdu family lawyer Tugay Bek blamed the authorities for inaction and disregarding the evidence, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported on October 13, 2018. Bek said Servet Koç, a member of the militant group the Islamic State, released a video in early 2017 in which he confessed to killing Bağdu and one other person by addressing the two victims’ families. Bek said although Koç mentions his partners in crime by name in this video, the authorities did not arrest anyone despite questioning these people. Bek told CPJ that there has been no warrant for Koç’s arrest.
The perpetrators in Bağdu’s murder are yet to be found, according to an October 13, 2019 report by the MA. The chief prosecutor’s office of Adana believes the murder is not related to terrorism and classified the case as unsolved, according to the report.