A prominent Turkish journalist critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been beaten outside his home. The assault comes after his paper was attacked in September by a pro-government mob.
Ahmet Hakan, a prominent journalist for the daily "Hurriyet" and CNN Turk, was assaulted by four men outside his home in Istanbul's upscale Nistansi district on Thursday, three weeks after a mob attacked the daily's headquarters.
Hakan suffered a broken nose and ribs, in what "Hurriyet" editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin described as an "organized and planned attack."
The daily reported four individuals have been arrested in the attack, which also targeted Hakan's bodyguard.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight when the four assailants bumped into the back of Hakan's car, jumped out and assaulted him, "Hurriyet" reported. According to police statements, the assailants claimed the fight ensued after an argument over the traffic accident.
AKP spokesman Omer Celik condemned the attack, as did the US, EU states and media rights groups.
Media under attack
Media rights groups regularly criticize worsening press freedoms in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP. Voices critical of the government are countered by pro-government mouthpieces, draconian anti-terror laws target journalists and criticism of Erdogan has increasingly become tantamount to crime.
In early September, Hurriyet's headquarters were attacked and damaged by a stone-throwing, club-wielding pro-government crowd on September 6 and 8 following backlash by President Erdogan and his pro-government media outlets against the newspaper.
AKP MP Abdurrahim Boynukalin was filmed during the first attack giving a violent speech, and later another video surfaced of him threatening Hakan and Ergin.
In a tweet addressed to "Hurriyet" after the attack, Boynukalin asked: "If I cut my wrists with the broken glass will you forgive me?"
This was followed by what the Turkish daily described as a death threat against Hakan from the pro-government "Star" newspaper.
"Like schizophrenia patients, you think you are still living in the days when 'Hurriyet' was running the country. We could crush you like a fly if we want. We have been merciful until today and you are still alive," Cem Kucuk, a "Star" newspaper columnist, wrote on September 9, speaking about Hakan.
In response, Hakan asked for police protection, which his lawyer said on Thursday was denied by the Istanbul Governor's Office.