AKP mayor’s guard batters and threatens journalist in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa

The bodyguard of Viranşehir district Mayor Salih Ekinci, from the ruling AKP, has battered and threatened journalist Mehmet Karakeçeli over his reportings. Karakeçeli noted that the guard said to him, “If you write something about the municipality from now on, you will die.”

Journalist Mehmet Karakeçeli and Viranşehir Mayor Salih Ekinci

Fatma Keber / Gazete Duvar 

The southeastern Şanlıurfa province’s Viranşehir district Mayor Salih Ekinci’s bodyguard on Aug. 29 battered and threatened journalist Mehmet Karakeçeli over his reportings regarding the municipality. 

Accordingly, Karakeçeli attended the farewell dinner organized for District Governor Önder Çengel in Şanlıurfa’s Viranşehir district. 

While Karakeçeli was leaving the dinner, he was attacked by a person who he said was the mayor’s bodyguard. Journalist Karakeçeli, whose nose was broken and injured in his eyebrow, was transferred to the hospital after the attack and received a health report. 

“As I was walking towards the car, someone touched my shoulder. I turned around and saw İsmail Ekinci, (Mayor) Salih Ekinci's bodyguard and also his first degree relative. He punched me directly and I started to bleed. While I was trying to hold his hand, he punched me in the nose and broke it,” the journalist noted and added that the bodyguard threatened him by saying “If you write something about the municipality from now on, you will die.”

Karakeçeli said that the municipality was uncomfortable with a news reporting he made about the organized industrial zone, and that's why he was attacked.

Mayor Ekinci told Gazete Duvar that he was “not aware of what happened.” 

“We do not know either, is it a slander or is it true? If he says so, then he will file a complaint, then we make our defense together with the witnesses. I have been the mayor for 4 years, would something like this suit me?,” he added.

Celal Çiftçi, Chair of Şanlıurfa Journalists and Writers Association and Provincial Representative of the Global Journalists Council, criticized the attack and said “Necessary legal measures should be taken to prevent the increasing violence against members of the press in recent years. The administrative crises in the region and the targeting of journalists who criticize these crises like this is not an acceptable situation.”

(English version by Alperen Şen)