German police warned Celal Başlangıç, the editor-in-chief of Artı TV and Artı Gerçek, that his life was under threat as a result of a "hit list" including the names of 55 people living abroad who are critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his administration, the journalist said on July 20.
Two German police came to Başlangıç's residence in Köln and confirmed the existence of an "execution list" that was first reported after Turkish journalist Erk Acarer was assaulted in his Berlin residence on July 7.
Acarer was beaten in the courtyard of his residence by a group who told him to stop reporting and writing, presumably about the ruling government.
A list of 21 people including Turkish journalists living abroad was published shortly after the attack on Acarer, by a social media account called Jitemkurt, an abbreviation including references to the gendarmerie and the grey wolves who are followers of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
"We knew the names on the 21-person list. There were later reports of a second list including 43 names, but we didn't know who was on this one," Başlangıç told Artı Gerçek.
The German police confirmed to Başlangıç the existence of a third list including 55 names. The police also told the journalist that they were conducting both a criminal and legal investigation into the threat.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has recently "ramped up its attacks on critics" because its hold on the ruling position is weakening, the journalist said.
"They're trying to hold onto power by completely taking over the media and creating an illusion through it. Oppositional media disrupts this illusion, so they attack any critics to be able to obtain their seats," Başlangıç said.
"It would be wrong to assume these attacks stem solely from Erdoğan," the journalist said, adding that the AKP's alliance partner MHP might be also behind these attacks.
Meanwhile, journalist Acarer received a second threat in his Berlin residence less than two weeks after he was attacked and assaulted by a mob.
Acarer found an egg wrapped in a sheet of paper that reads "You just wait" in Turkish in his courtyard, he said in a tweet on July 20.
"The AKP-MHP government is responsible for any attack I might endure, alongside the German government which I think is remaining passive in implementing precautionary measures," Acarer said in his tweet.
Dün gece evimin bahçesine üzerinde ‘Sen bekle’ yazısı sardıkları pişmiş bir yumurta attılar.Sabah saatlerinde bilgiyi polis verdi. Başıma gelecek herhangi bir yeni olaydan AKP-MHP iktidarı, çeteleri ile tedbirler konusunda atıl kaldığını düşündüğüm Alman Hükümeti sorumlu olacak. pic.twitter.com/sjnVLNrqER— Erk Acarer (@eacarer) July 20, 2021
The German government said the following day that they had expanded an investigation into the attack on Acarer, and that they would look into any possible connections between the journalist's mobbing and the most recent threat.