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Turkish journalist critical of Erdogan government attacked outside home

Yavuz Selim Demirag, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and its nationalist allies, rests in a hospital bed in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, May 11, 2019.
Yavuz Selim Demirag, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and its nationalist allies, rests in a hospital bed in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, May 11, 2019. AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

A journalist critical of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and its nationalist allies was hospitalized after being attacked outside his home, his newspaper said Saturday.

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The Yenicag newspaper said columnist Yavuz Selim Demirag was beaten up by about five or six people with baseball bats after appearing on a TV show Friday. The assailants escaped the scene in a vehicle.

The reason for the attack was not known but it comes amid tensions over the top electoral authority’s decision to cancel the results of the March 31 mayoral race for Istanbul, which was won by the opposition. It ordered a revote June 23.

Erdogan’s party says the Istanbul vote was marred by fraud but the opposition says the electoral board was pressured by the government, which desperately wants to hold on to power in Turkey’s largest city.

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The nationalist party that Demirag supports is part of an opposition alliance whose candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, won control of Istanbul city hall before his mandate was revoked this week.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, visited Demirag in the hospital and condemned the attack.

“How can a journalist be beaten with intent to kill just because he participated in a program, voiced his views or criticized someone?” he told reporters. “Where is Turkey going to?”

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The assault also drew condemnation from Turkey’s Journalists Association which said the attack on Demirag raises concerns over media freedoms.

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“Politicians who have difficulty espousing the idea of freedom of media and of expression and turn newspapers and journalists into targets, play an important role in these types of attacks,” the group said.

The journalist was in stable condition and was expected to be released from the hospital on Sunday.