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Anti-government Turkish journalist ‘attacked in Istanbul’

A gang of assailants attacked a prominent Turkish journalist known for his critical stance against the government outside his Istanbul home

Published: Updated:

A gang of assailants attacked a prominent Turkish journalist known for his critical stance against the government outside his Istanbul home, inflicting injuries to his nose and ribs, his employer said Thursday.

Ahmet Hakan, a respected columnist for daily Hurriyet and a TV show host on CNN-Turk television, was attacked by four assailants shortly after midnight early Thursday outside his home in the upscale Nisantasi district of Istanbul, Hurriyet said.

After hosting his late-night show, Tarafsiz Bolge, Hakan left the shared headquarters of CNN-Turk and Hurriyet in a private car along with his driver and bodyguard, the daily said.

One of the assailants held off his bodyguard the other three beat Hakan before fleeing the scene in their car.

Hakan was hospitalized with injuries to his ribs and nose and was discharged from hospital Thursday.

Police detained all four suspects, whose motives remain unclear, Hurriyet said.

There has been growing concern about deteriorating press freedoms in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in particular over the numbers of journalists facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting top officials.

Tensions have risen further as the government wages a relentless campaign against Kurdish militants, with officials accusing critical journalists of taking the side of “terrorists”.

Hakan has recently been the target of threats by pro-government media columnists for his criticism toward the government and had already asked for police protection.

Cem Kucuk, a columnist for the staunchly pro-government Star daily, threatened Hakan with “crushing you like a bug.”

The headquarters of the Hurriyet newspaper in Istanbul was twice attacked by pro-government demonstrators who accused the paper of misquoting Erdogan.

Hurriyet and CNN-Turk are owned by Dogan Media Group, which has repeatedly been criticized by Erdogan and does not always follow the government line.