Turkish journalist detained for reporting suicide

A Turkish reporter was detained and later released on Monday for reporting about a Turkish father, who committed suicide because he could not afford to buy his son trousers for his school uniform, BBC Turkish reported.

İsmail Devrim, a father of two, last week hanged himself after his son’s high school sent him home because his trousers did not fit the school uniform.

Ergün Demir, a reporter of Sözcü newspaper, published an interview with Devrim’s wife on Saturday. 

“We were having problems because he was not able to work. We have a mortgage to pay for our house. We were having difficulty in paying it,” said the wife.

According to his wife, Devrim was a machinist, but became unemployed after he injured his arm in a traffic accident. 

Devrim’s suicide became a trending topic on social media after the interview was published. Some government supporters accused the reporter of manipulating the story, saying that Devrim committed suicide because he had a weak character, and accusing those reacting on social media of trying to harm the government. 

A photo of Devrim with his son during a football match was also shown by some as a proof that economic difficulties were not the reason for the suicide.

The provincial governor issued press statement on Saturday, saying Devrim committed for psychological reasons and other reports did not reflect reality.

“It is understood that the news report misinformed the public and created negative opinions,” the statement said. 

Demir on Sunday wrote an article explaining his reporting. “I talked to the mourning wife, Hafize Devrim and her two neighbours in a room. I recorded what they said and took photographs. I felt a pain in my chest, while listening the unfortunate woman,” he said. Demir later released the original recording of the interview, as a response to speculations about the credibility of his report. 

He was detained on Monday for secretly recording the interview and publishing it without the consent of Hafize Demir. A neighbourhood official, who was present during the interview, was also detained. Both were released the same day.

Demir told BBC Turkish that his detention had nothing to do with the content of his report. “I am a journalist. I provided the evidence. I did not add anything to it. I only wrote what Hafize Demir told me. I do not want to engage in any further polemics about this issue,” he said. 

He also refuted allegations that the recording was made secretly. “Since I recorded the interview via my mobile phone, I held it close to her face. Then I stood across from her to take a photograph,” he said.