Turkish journalist in exile attacked outside his home in Berlin

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Erk Acarer, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government who lives in exile in Germany, on Wednesday announced he was attacked “with knives and fists” in the courtyard of his apartment building in Berlin.

“I don’t have a life-threatening injury. We are going to the hospital,” Acarer said, adding: “I know the perpetrators. I will never surrender to fascism. Don’t worry, these days will pass!”

Acarer, a columnist for the Birgün daily, also shared a photo of himself with blood on his face that seems to have been taken shortly after the incident.

“I was attacked by three people with guns in the common courtyard of the building where I live. One of the assailants was shouting, ‘You will not write!’ They couldn’t use their guns since there were many witnesses,” Acarer said in a video he released on Twitter early on Thursday.

Acarer claimed the attack was evidence confirming everything he had written and said against the “Islamist and fascist” AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). He added that he had some ideas and information regarding the perpetrators but chose not to talk about them for a few days so as to not make things more difficult for the police.

“But the answer to the question ‘Where’s $10,000?’ lies right here, somewhere,” Acarer said, referring to an allegation voiced by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu that a politician, believed by many to be from the ruling AKP, had been receiving a monthly payment of $10,000 from notorious Turkish mafia boss Sedat Peker.

Once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, Peker has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through his shocking revelations on social media about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.

Soylu made the assertion in a televised interview in May following Peker’s statement in a YouTube video that he ordered a raid on the headquarters of the Hürriyet daily in 2015 upon a request from a then-AKP lawmaker.

A number of journalists and politicians, in addition to social media users, have condemned the attack on Acarer, accusing Erdoğan and his AKP government of responsibility for it.

“Take a look at what he [Acarer] has been writing about, and you’ll know who sent the three armed men to his house. They [the AKP government] have become a nuisance not only to Turkey, but the world,” former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily and journalist in exile Can Dündar tweeted.

Sevim Dağdelen, a member of the German parliament from the Left Party, also blamed Erdoğan’s network for the attack in Berlin, asking the German federal government how much longer will they stay silent in the face of such life-threatening attacks targeting Turkish dissidents.

“The mafia regime spreads terror by attacking a journalist in the heart of Europe. Erk Acarer is a courageous source of information for Turkey. They are attacking the people’s right to be informed. This predatory barbarism will lose. We stand by you,” Turkish Prof. Dr. Gazi Çağlar, based in Germany, said.

“The darkness created by the AKP government to drown out media [outlets] beyond its control has turned into systematic violence against our colleagues,” Turkey’s Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) said in a June report.

Turkish journalists are often targeted and jailed for their journalistic activities. Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and ranked 153rd among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2021, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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