December 21, 2009 / 6:08 PM / 10 years ago

Turkish editor murder shows risk for reporters: group

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The murder of a Turkish newspaper editor, gunned down in broad daylight as he walked to work, shows the risks journalists still face there, Turkey’s journalism association said on Monday.

Cihan Hayirsevener, editor of a regional newspaper in Bandirma in northwest Turkey, was shot by an unidentified gunman on Friday afternoon, in a scene reminiscent of the 2007 killing of Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink, murdered by an ultra-nationalist on an Istanbul street.

“Journalists are neither safe nor free,” said Zafer Atay, secretary-general of the Turkish Journalists Association.

Hayirsevener was the first journalist since Dink to be killed for what he wrote, Atay said, adding that the journalist had received death threats after writing about the detention of people suspected of corruption in a construction tender.

Press freedom in Turkey has come under renewed scrutiny since tension rose last year between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s largest media group.

Dogan Yayin, which owns a series of prominent newspapers including the daily Hurriyet and broadcaster CNN Turk, faces a record tax fine of $3.3 billion in a case critics say is politically motivated.

The government denies this and says Dogan has acted like an opposition party with its critical coverage. Erdogan had earlier urged his supporters not to buy Dogan-owned newspapers.

EU aspirant Turkey has a history of limiting free speech, especially on issues which continue to be seen in some quarters as a threat to the modern Turkish republic.

The European Commission has urged Turkey to do more to protect freedom of expression and the press. Discussion of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 and political Islam are particularly sensitive.

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; editing by Robin Pomeroy

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