Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by a message posted on Twitter on the night of 16 March about an alleged plot by the shadowy ultranationalist network Ergenekon to murder Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, two investigative journalists who were released conditionally on 12 March after a year in detention.
“It is not alarmist to say that these threats should be taken seriously,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The source of this Tweet, which is still unknown, needs to be investigated thoroughly. We call on the Turkish authorities to launch an investigation at once in other to shed light on this matter.”
Posted by someone using the pseudonym “Faiz Düsmani” (Enemy of Interest), the message said: “Attention, attention. I warn the government and those that can should also inform it. Ergenekon is planning to assassinate Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener. [The organization] is going to kill them and then blame the [Fethullah Gülen religious] community.”
Sik told Reporters Without Borders he took the threat seriously and thought it was the work of “the circles responsible for the conspiracy” that led to his been detained for a year on a terrorism charge. “They want to silence me. They will be responsible for anything that happens to me.”
He added that the comments he made outside Silivri prison on the night of his release had upset certain people who were now trying to silence him. The speech is meanwhile the subject of a new judicial investigation by Istanbul prosecutor Muammer Akkas.
Several journalists have received death threats in recent years, for the most part coming from ultranationalist circles. Despite the lengthy trials of many persons accused in connection with the January 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, those who masterminded his murder have never been identified.
Sik has been spending time with his family since his release but plans to resume working within a few days for Habervesaire.com, a website run by the students of the communications faculty at Istanbul’s Bilgi University. After a short rest, Sener plants to work for the daily Posta.
Sik and Sener are being tried along with eight journalists working for the Oda TV website, five of whom are still detained. They are site owner Soner Yalçin, academic Yalçin Küçük, publisher Baris Pehlivan, news editor Baris Terkoglu and reporter Müyesser Ugur. They will not have an opportunity to be granted a conditional release until the next hearing in the trial, which is scheduled for 18 June.