A top advisor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened Abdullah Bozkurt, a Middle East Forum writing fellow and investigative journalist, with death.
Mesut Hakkı Caşın, a member of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Board, issued the threat on January 15 speaking on CNN’s Turkish language channel, referring to Bozkurt: “Turkish national intelligence will find him, I’ll tell you that … I don’t know whether [it] will feed him to the fish or the sharks, but traitors always get their punishment.”
Bozkurt has played a key role in analyzing leaked documents that shed light on the inner workings of Erdoğan’s regime and its crackdown on domestic opposition. He has written extensively on the its links to the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and exposed its clandestine support to jihadist groups including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
He previously served as a New York-based bureau chief for Zaman, a daily newspaper associated with Fethullah Gülen shut down in the aftermath of the alleged coup attempt in July 2016. Bozkurt has since lived in exile.
The Erdoğan regime has a long history of violence against Turkish dissidents abroad, particularly those affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government calls the “Fethullah Terror Organization,” or FETO.
There have been credible allegations of the Erdoğan regime murdering dissidents abroad. The most notorious was the assassination of three female members of the PKK in Paris in 2013. In September 2020, Turkish intelligence operative Feyyaz Öztürk turned himself in to police in Austria, saying he had been ordered to kill a Turkish-born Erdoğan critic MP there, Aygül Berivan Aslan.
More commonly, Turkey’s intelligence service kidnaps dissidents and forcibly brings them back to Turkey. In 2018, an Erdoğan regime official openly acknowledged that Turkish intelligence agents had “bundled up and brought back 80 FETO members in 18 countries” against their will.
Many exiled Turkish dissidents have had run-ins with a pro-Erdoğan violent ultranationalist group operating in the Turkish diaspora known as the Grey Wolves. In September 2020, Bozkurt himself was brutally attacked and injured by three unidentified men outside his home in Stockholm.
The Middle East Forum, which has closely scrutinized Turkey’s descent into autocratic Islamism in recent years, takes the latest threats against Bozkurt very seriously. “The Forum stands with Abdullah Bozkurt against the barbarism of the Erdoğan regime,” stated MEF president Daniel Pipes.
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