On the night of 29 August, Mehmet Karakeçili, editor-in-chief of local TV channel Viran TV, was assaulted by Ismail Ekinci, bodyguard and nephew of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-affiliated district mayor Salih Ekinci. The incident took place in Viranşehir (Wêranşar), a district in the country’s Kurdish-majority Urfa (Riha) province.
“Being attacked for reporting on corruption is a blatant violation of press freedom,” stated Karakeçili, who was hospitalised after the assault. He added that the assailants threatened him, saying, “You won’t report on the municipality anymore, or you’ll die.”
Karakeçili emphasised that Mayor Salih Ekinci and Chamber of Agriculture President Bahri Ekinci are responsible for the attack. “This wasn’t a random act; it was instigated by the mayor himself,” he said.
The journalist had previously exposed various corrupt practices within the municipality, including irregularities in the hiring of personnel and the misallocation of municipal resources. “We found that nearly 150 new employees shared surnames with delegates who had voted in the Chamber of Agriculture elections, raising questions about the criteria for these hires,” Karakeçili explained.
The assailant was released under judicial control, despite the prosecutor’s request for detention. “Unless a deterrent penalty is imposed, such attacks will only increase,” warned Karakeçili. “I call on the Ministry of Justice and the President to lift this pressure on journalists. Let the press be free to call right ‘right’ and wrong ‘wrong.'”