Nine-and-a-half years after the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor-in-chief of the Agos weekly Hrant Dink, a pro-government TV channel released footage that was shot in a police station in Samsun province showing that Ogün Samast, Dink’s assassin, was given a hero’s welcome by police officers and gendarmes 36 hours after the murder.
The video, believed to have been shot by a police officer, shows that Samast is congratulated by the police officers for the Dink murder and asked to strike “a nice pose” for the camera. A police officer behind the camera tells Samast, “Well done, my boy [for killing Dink],” and asks him to show the Turkish flag to the camera.
One of the police officers in uniform is also heard saying to Samast, who seems nervous because of the video footage, “I am a son of ….. if you see this footage in newspapers and media outlets in the future.”
On Sept. 6, another pro-government TV station, A Haber, also broadcast footage showing that six former gendarmerie intelligence officers, who are currently on trial over links to the faith-based Gülen movement, were complicit in the 2007 murder of Dink, a claim already raised by two journalists several years ago who are now under heavy government pressure due to their links to the movement.
Journalists Adem Yavuz Arslan and Bayram Kaya, who used to work for the Bugün and Zaman dailies, respectively, wrote about the involvement of gendarmerie officers in the Dink murder in books they published several years ago. Both Zaman and Bugün were closed by the government following the failed coup attempt on the grounds that they had links to the Gülen movement.
The footage was uncovered in the course of an investigation into the gendarmerie officers’ alleged involvement in a failed military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, which the government accuses the Gülen movement of having masterminded. While pro-government media tries to put the blame for the Dink murder on Gülen sympathizers in the police force and gendarmerie, the footage strengthens suspicions that the intelligence officers were in close contact with the perpetrator of the murder, Ogün Samast.
Arslan, currently abroad, is being sought under an arrest warrant, while Kaya is among the dozens of journalists jailed after the coup attempt.
In his book, titled ”Bi Ermeni Var” (There is an Armenian), published in 2011, Arslan wrote about the involvement of gendarmerie officers in the Dink murder, but no legal action has yet been taken against them.