Veteran journalist Ahmet Hakan was injured in an assault in front of his home after an intense months-long campaign of intimidation and slander on pro-government media.
After the attack, former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç voiced his hope via a tweet “to wake from this nightmare,” calling for the punishment of the perpetrators in court.
“We are living in a reality that Mr. Arınç also sees as a nightmare” Ergin said during a live broadcast on CNN Türk after the attack.
“The lynch campaign against the Doğan Group [that owns Hürriyet], against Mr. Aydın Doğan, has been going on for a long time. We do not have any objections to criticism. Criticize us. But now we are at the stage of death threats and it must stop,” he added.
Daily Hürriyet’s headquarters in Istanbul were attacked by pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) protesters on Sept. 6, and within 48 hours the building was again attacked by another club-swinging, stone-pelting group.
AKP MP Abrurrahim Boynukalın was filmed while delivering a fiery speech in front of the Hürriyet office during the first violent attack.
Boynukalın was also filmed in another video explicitly threatening Hakan and Ergin with a physical attack.
The threats continued after the attack on Hürriyet, with Boynukalın enjoying legal impunity as a parliamentary deputy.
“Like schizophrenia patients, you think you are still living in the days when Hürriyet was running the country. We could crush you like a fly if we wanted. We have been merciful until today and you are still alive” pro-government Star columnist Cem Küçük wrote in a Sept. 9 article.
Editor-in-chief Ergin criticized the government over “the threat and lynch campaign targeting Turkey’s largest media group.”
“This is not happening outside the knowledge of the political power. This is a campaign supported and protected by the political power,” he said, urging the government to send a “different signal” by abandoning its polarizing language. “It must change and a strong stance must be adopted to provide a deterrent against such attacks.”
Hours after the attack, Ergin made the opening speech for the new semester at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, titled “The State of Freedom of the Press in Turkey in 2015.”
“Now I am here to talk about press freedom again. I can only say that I was at the emergency ward of a hospital [for Hakan],” he said. “As an editor-in-chief, should I keep spending my time like that? Enough is enough.”