Independent journalist Erkam Tufan Aytav claimed on his YouTube program on Wednesday that a German woman of Turkish origin was ordered by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to kill journalists Abdullah Bozkurt and Cevheri Güven, both of whom are living in exile in Europe, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.
According to Aytav’s unnamed source, the woman, who has links to the Gray Wolves, an ultranationalist youth group affiliated with a far-right Turkish political party, was arrested in the UAE emirate of Dubai before she could fulfill another alleged mission, that of assassinating Sedat Peker, a Turkish mafia boss and former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who later turned against him.
The UAE police discovered photographs and the home addresses of Bozkurt in Sweden and Güven in Germany in the woman’s possession.
Stating that he finds it disturbing to see how far the Turkish government is willing to go to silence critical voices abroad, Bozkurt on January 26 tweeted, “Whether this new allegation is true or not, I know for a fact that I have been [in] the crosshairs of #Erdogan and his thuggish regime for years now. His aide openly called for my assassination on a national TV network for exposing [the] dirty laundry of his boss.”
In the possession of the assassin, UAE police discovered the photos and home addresses about me in Sweden and journalist @cevheriguven in Germany. If this story checks out, it is really troubling to see how far @RTErdogan is willing to go to muzzle critical voices abroad.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) January 26, 2023
In 2022 the pro-government Sabah daily published secretly taken photos of exiled journalists including Bozkurt and Güven and revealed their home addresses on its front page.
Bozkurt and Güven had previously said Turkey’s MİT has been engaged in a manhunt for them.
According to Bozkurt, the Turkish government is trying to intimidate all the Turkish journalists who are reporting from exile by making him a target but vowed that he would not bow to their pressure.
Bozkurt is the former Ankara representative of the now-closed Today’s Zaman daily and founder of the Nordic Research Monitoring Network, which exposes the Turkish government’s relations with radical and extremist groups, unlawful activities of the Turkish intelligence service and government corruption.
Güven is an investigative journalist in exile whose videos on YouTube in which he talks about the Turkish government’s corruption and shady relations attract hundreds of thousands viewers. The former editor of the now-defunct Nokta magazine, Güven, along with the magazine’s managing editor, Murat Çapan, was handed down a prison sentence of 22 years, six months in 2017 on charges of “inciting people to armed revolt against the Turkish government.”
Bozkurt and Güven are among the hundreds of Turkish journalists and government opponents who had to flee Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 to avoid a massive crackdown launched by the government on people who have alleged links to the Gülen movement.
The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Journalists who fled Turkey following the coup attempt to avoid jail on bogus terrorism or coup charges have established their own news outlets and have become the major source of news for some Turks in a country where 90 percent of the national media is owned by pro-government businessmen who toe the official line, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
According to Turkey’s Transnational Repression: 2022 in Review by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), since the coup attempt President Erdoğan’s long arm has reached tens of thousands of Turkish citizens abroad, from spying through diplomatic missions and pro-government diaspora organizations to denial of consular services and outright intimidation and illegal renditions.