Video footage showing the baseball bat attack on a journalist who criticized Turkey’s President Erdogan and Justice and Development Party (AKP) was aired on Friday.
Footage of the May 10 attack on columnist Yavuz Selim Demirag, which has drawn widespread condemnation, was aired by Oda TV news portal.
A group of six people beat Demirag, a columnist for Turkey’s nationalist Yenicag newspaper, using baseball bats in front of his house in Ankara.
The incident happened after the journalist’s appearance on a TV show where he had criticized Erdogan.
The assailants of the attack, who were detained by the Ankara police, were released by the prosecution on the same day after claiming that the incident was a fight based on a road rage incident.
The footage aired by Oda TV shows a vehicle chasing Demirag’s car and parking around ten meters in front of it after the journalist parks his car outside his house.
The assailants are then seen getting out of the vehicle and running towards the journalist to carry out the attack, while a few of them staying behind to keep watch.
The assailants are then seen running back to their vehicle right after the attack and the car then speeds away from the scene.
Following the attack on Demirag, Turkey’s opposition leaders lashed out against President Erdogan and the ruling AKP, whom they hold responsible for the beating that the opposition columnist received.
Meral Aksener, leader of the nationalist Good Party (IP), and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), visited the dissident journalist at the Gulhane Military Medical Academy (GATA), where he was hospitalized after the attack.
“How can a journalist be beaten with intent to kill just because he participated in a TV program, voiced his views or criticized someone?” Kilicdaroglu stated to reporters after the visit.
CHP leader also heavily criticized the prosecutor who released Demirag’s assailants during his party’s group meeting in parliament on Tuesday.
“What would have happened if you were the one who was beaten with baseball bats? Since when is it that the sole requirement of an attempted lynching is the taking of suspects’ statements and then releasing them?” he emphasized, addressing the prosecutor.
According to a report by the International Press Institute (IPI), 90% of all the media outlets in Turkey are currently under the influence of Erdogan’s AKP government.
Turkey, the world leader in jailing journalists, ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.