TURKEY: SEEMO Condemns Attack on Cypriot Journalists

TURKEY, 06/07/2011

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), today condemned the second shooting attack this year on journalists working for Afrika, a Turkish-language newspaper in Northern Cyprus.

An armed man came to Afrika's office on 3 July looking for its editor-in-chief, Sener Levent, and fired a shot at newspaper employee Ali Osman when Osman opened the door. Osman managed to dodge the bullet and was unharmed. 

The police arrested a 26-year-old Turkish citizen, Mustafa Yalcin, as a suspect. Yalcin appeared in court on 4 July and stands accused of attempted murder. 

According to an article published in the Cyprus Mail, Yalcin previously admitted that he had been hired to kill Levent. Levent told the newspaper: "Mustafa Yalcin came to the newspaper offices around two weeks ago and confessed to me that he had been assigned to shoot me, but that he'd decided he wasn't going to do it."

The editor added, however, that Yalcin had warned him that the plan to kill him had not been abandoned and that the only way to avoid death would be to cultivate "good relations with Ankara". Afrika is known for its critical articles on Turkish policy towards Northern Cyprus.

Police reportedly did not react to Yalcin's previous admission and only took action following the latest incident.

As SEEMO previously reported, Levent received a death threat on 2 March 2011. One week earlier, on 25 February, unknown attackers opened fire on Afrika's office door. One bullet hit the wall and the other lodged in the door. The attackers left a note warning that next time the shots would target the journalist, rather than just his office door.

SEEMO welcomed Yalcin's detention, but Secretary General Oliver Vujovic added: "We strongly urge the authorities in Northern Cyprus to do an in-depth investigation and to find all of those responsible for shooting and threatening journalists."

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