Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the death threats received by the journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan linked to the publication of his book on the circumstances surrounding the killing of journalist Hrant Dink.
Since his book "There is this Armenian: the secrets of the Dink operation" appeared on 17 January this year he has received several threatening phone calls. On 26 January he was sent at his office an envelope containing four Kalashnikov bullets and a white beret, a reference to that worn by Ogün Samast, who is charged with the murder of Hrant Dink.
Columnist and editor of the daily Bugün in Ankara, Arslan told the official radio station TRT: “I am not afraid of anyone. If my last day has arrived, well, that’s fate. But if I am threatened it’s because I am on the right track.”
But, he added “with this package the threats have taken on a new dimension that’s why we have asked for the protection of the security forces.”
“It is particularly worrying to see that all the writers who have tried to add elements on the murder of Hrant Dink have run into trouble in one way or another”, Reporters Without Borders says.
“Between the prosecutions undertaken against Nedim Sener* or Kemal Göktas**, and the threats against Adem Yavuz Arslan, it seems that the people who ordered the killing and their backers are trying to discourage any attempt to shed light on it”, the press freedom campaign said.
“That also means that Adem Yavuz Arslan, Nedim Sener and Kemal Göktas probably uncovered clues leading to those really responsible. It is time that the Turkish justice took into account these elements to find and put on trial those guilty of the killing.”
Reporters Without Borders said the authorities should guarantee the protection of these journalists who have had the courage to carry out a real work of inquiry.
“Light must be shed on the murder of Hrant Dink, even if it implicates the highest levels of the apparatus of the Turkish state. Four years after his death international opinion and Turkish civil society still demand that he be given justice.”
In his book Arslan questioned the role of Satilmis Sahin, a non-commissioned officer at the gendarmerie in Trabzon, where the execution of Hrant Dink was allegedly planned. The day before the killing he had been sent to the Bayrampasa district of Istanbul, where Ogün Samast was then living, officially to help with the transfer of a prisoner.
On 19 January 2007 he was in the district of Sisli, some 500 meters from the scene of the crime at the moment it was committed. It is also alleged that the presumed killer Ogün Samast had acquired a weapon from Ahmet Faruk Aydogdu, another non-commissioned officer and a friend of Sahin.
Finally, Sahin, who knows most of those accused, is also close to the roommate of Erhan Tuncel, the alleged organizer of the crime. Arslan believes that these facts cannot amount to coincidences and seem to confirm the implication of Trabzon officers in the crime.
The Association of Turkish Journalists (TGC) has condemned the threats against Arslan and called on the authorities to identify their source and take all steps to guarantee the right of citizens to be informed.
In another development, on 26 January President Abdullah Gül announced that he would not hesitate to put the State Supervisory Council to work if the case falls under the Council's juridiction.
“I will not allow there to be dysfunctions in the framework of the trial. If it is within the power of the Council to act, I shall not hesitate. He was killed in front of everyone. If there are dysfunctions, it is shameful,” he said.
More than 10,000 people took part in demonstrations in Istanbul on 19 January to protest against the impunity which has been the rule for the last four years in the case of the murder of Hrant Dink. This year the Turkish media and demonstrators have questioned more openly the responsibility of the state. On 19 January newspapers took up these accusations and condemned the slowness of the judicial process. The daily Taraf quoted on its front page Rakel Dink, the widow of the journalist : “The state had him killed and now it protects them.” Radikal’s headline was: “He is still on the ground.”
The next hearing will take place on 7 February.
* The Dink murder and Intelligence Lies and Red Friday: Who broke Dink’s pen?
** The murder of Hrant Dink: Media, Judiciary and the State.