Group attacks Halk TV's live broadcast, prevent crew from filming in fire-stricken Marmaris

A group of five people have attacked Halk TV's live broadcast in the fire-stricken district of Marmaris and threatened to block the crew from filming if they did not like or agree with what was said. All of the five assailants have been released from custody after giving their testimonies.

Duvar English

The crew of the opposition TV channel Halk TV have been attacked by a group of five people who wanted to go on air at midnight on Aug. 5.

The incident occurred in the Marmaris district of the Aegean province of Muğla, which has been battling the fires.

Halk TV journalists were filming a live program on ongoing wildfires when the group of five people came to the set and threatened to block the TV channel from filming if they did not agree with what was said. The group also wanted to appear on the program.

Gökmen Karadağ, the presenter of the live program, told the assailants that it was not possible for them to go on the program and paused the live broadcast for a while. “Our broadcast has been prevented and tense moments were experienced here,” Karadağ later said in after comments, adding that the assailants went as far as using “physical power.”

The program was attended by journalists İsmail Saymaz and Murat Ağırel as well lawyer Salim Şen, who also tried to prevent the attack. 

Ağırel shared video footage showing assailants attacking the broadcast crew, along with the note: “They have raided Halk TV broadcast and attacked the crew by saying 'We would prevent it if wrong things are being talked about.'”

After the assailants left the scene of the incident, the broadcast continued, during which main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) vice chair Ali Öztunç connected to the program on the phone and said he had been told by Marmaris district governor that five people had been detained in the connection with the attack.

The police have released four of the detainees from their custody, whereas referred the assailant named Mert Topaloğlu to the prosecutor's office as video recordings showed him attacking the Halk TV crew with a glass bottle. But, the prosecutor's office decided that Topaloğlu be also released from custody. 

Saymaz commented on the attack during the program, saying: “They have not spoken of their political identities, but in my opinion, they were [Justice and Development Party] AKP members.”

Saymaz said that “no power” will be able to prevent them from saying the truth. “They [assailants] have just now seen that we will not step back from brute force.”

HalkTV crew later filed a criminal complaint against the assailants at the police station, where they found out that the assailants have received medical reports under the pretense that they were the ones who were battered.

“When we were signing the official report of our testimonies, we have learned that these people have said, 'We were the ones who were attacked, we are the ones filing a criminal complaint' and they received battering reports,” Ağırel tweeted.

It has come out to light that one of the assailants, Sertan Yüce, is a figure known closely by the business world of the Marmaris district and is running the vice chairmanship of the Marmaris Chamber of Commerce.

He has a photograph taken with Mehmet Ağar, a disgraced former interior minister.

Former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar (L) and Sertan Yüce, one of the assailants, are seen. 

İlhan Taşçı, a member of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said that the attack against the Halk TV is a “serious blow” to the freedom of speech and press.

“This attack is a result of the policy of polarization and tension created in Turkey by the hands of the rulership. It should be known that such fascistic attacks have never been able to silence the free press,” Taşçı said in a statement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is under serious criticism over his government's inadequate response to raging wildfires.

During an interview on Aug. 4, Erdoğan accused opposition parties of perpetuating a “terror of lies” for criticizing Turkey’s lack of adequate aerial firefighting capabilities and inadequate preparedness in the face of large-scale wildfires.