Exiled Turkish journalist alleges intelligence involvement in attack in Sweden

Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, former Ankara chief of shuttered Today’s Zaman, was attacked by three men on Thursday outside his home in Stockholm where he lives in exile, his news website Nordic Monitor reported.

Bozkurt sustained injuries in the head, arms and legs. He told Nordic Monitor that he did not know the attackers or their motivations, but suspected the attack had been in relation to his reporting.

Pro-government pundit Cem Küçük had called on Turkey’s national intelligence agency MİT to target Bozkurt along with others with alleged ties to FETÖ, or the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation, the name Turkey uses for followers of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Turkey maintains the movement infiltrated key positions in the Turkish state apparatus, and was behind the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

“Let’s see what happens if you exterminate a few of them. Let’s see how afraid they will be if a few of them get headshots,” Küçük said on a pro-government television network in June.

“Bozkurt runs several anti-government websites. Gulenists in the US have also been attacked,” journalist Amberin Zaman said, adding that the MİT had recently been accused of holding Gülen-linked individuals in black sites for torture.

A 2018 report from English PEN found that, following the state of emergency decreed after the attempted coup, 200 media outlets and publishing organisations had been shut down, 80 writers subjected to investigations and prosecutions and 5,822 academics dismissed from 118 public universities. 

The MİT has also been accused of involvement with assassination plans for Austrian political figures, including Kurdish-Austrian politician Berivan Aslan and former member of the Austrian parliament Peter Pilz.

Aslan, who uncovered a network of MİT operatives in Austria, told Ahval that the self-admitted MİT operative claimed he was given a list of targets by a prosecutor in Turkey.

Turkish state-linked religious organisation DİTİB in Germany was accused of spying for Turkey in 2018, and the German intelligence service uncovered that DİTİB imams had been reporting on Turkish dissidents to the embassy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in January that the MİT would focus more on operations abroad, saying some 10,000 people he called terrorists were allowed to move freely in Germany.