Mesut Hakkı Caşın, the Turkish president’s advisor on security and foreign policy, openly threatened a Swedish-based Turkish journalist with murder on live TV, broadcast by a national television network, saying Turkish intelligence would find him and feed him to the sharks.
Speaking during a debate program on a CNN Türk on January 15, 2021, a pro-government media outlet, Caşın targeted Abdullah Bozkurt, an exiled journalist in Stockholm, and said Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) would find him and punish him.
“Turkish national intelligence will find him, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know whether MIT will feed him to the fish or the sharks [as a murder tactic], but traitors always get their punishment some day,” he said.
Caşın, a 65-year-old professor, is a member of Turkey’s Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Board advising President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on strategic matters. He also lectures at various Turkish universities.
Caşın also revealed that he had searched for Bozkurt, who is active on Twitter, and wrote to Twitter for the journalist’s whereabouts. He said Twitter did not respond to his message nor did they do anything about it. He then made accusations against the US-based social media company, claiming that Twitter is acting against the Turkish nation.
Erdoğan’s advisor quickly added that MIT would find the journalist in Stockholm and give him his punishment because he is a traitor.
“You worked as a journalist in Turkey. You are not spying for others,” he said, vowing that Turks will punish Bozkurt and find him even if he goes to a hell hole.
Caşın was apparently frustrated with Bozkurt’s critical writings on investigative news website Nordic Monitor, which has been exposing clandestine and illegal operations run by the Erdoğan government in Turkey and abroad. A wealth of documentary evidence including classified files that showed MIT’s links to radical jihadist groups has been published by Nordic Monitor.
This is not the first time Turkish intelligence was called in to kill Bozkurt. In December 2016 Cem Küçük, a government propagandist with close ties to the Turkish interior and justice ministers, called for MIT to assassinate Bozkurt. Speaking on TGRT TV, a government loyalist media outlet, Küçük said Bozkurt’s home address in Stockholm was known by Turkish authorities and demanded the “extermination” of the journalist.
“No need to beat around the bush anymore. Where they [critical journalists] live is known, including their addresses abroad. Let’s see what happens if several of them get exterminated. How terrified would they be if you put a bullet into the heads of some [critical] journalists,” he said.
Speaking about Bozkurt, Küçük said that “his home address is known by the [Turkish] state,” prompting the other guest, Fuat Uğur, to say, “They mustn’t be able to live comfortably wherever they are.” In response Küçük, said: “Right. Kill three or five of them and see what happens. Turkish intelligence agency MIT now has the authority [to carry out killings] abroad.”
Bozkurt says he is no stranger to such threats as he gets similar threats directed at him and his family all the time, mostly from anonymous users on social media or via email. “Of course, it still has a chilling effect on me when I see a senior member of the Turkish president’s team openly calling for my murder by Turkish intelligence,” he said. “This shows how Turkey, under the Erdoğan government, has been transformed into a rogue regime where an all-out-war against journalists has been declared.”
On September 24, 2020 Bozkurt was attacked near his home in Stockholm by three unidentified men who kicked and punched him while on the ground. Bozkurt suffered scrapes and bruises to his face, arms and legs and was treated at a local hospital and released. The Swedish police opened an investigation into the incident. The investigation is still pending.
Turkey has been a leading jailer of journalists worldwide in recent years, with 175 journalists currently in the country’s overcrowded prisons where torture and ill-treatment are widely committed. According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom, 167 journalists were forced to flee Turkey to escape imprisonment on dubious charges.
Turkish media is by and large controlled by the government, and most media outlets including CNN Türk function as the government’s propaganda mouthpieces.
Erdoğan’s aide Caşın often appears on TV programs, commenting on various matters, some of which have attracted criticism from abroad when shared by Bozkurt on his personal Twitter account.
In December 2020, again on CNN Türk, Caşın threatened to kill American soldiers in Greece, saying that “two of our battalions will invade [Greece] and teach all the Americans [deployed in Greece] how to swim in Aegean waters.”
“We can also close our [military] bases [to US troops]. Let the US take its radar [NATO radar base in Turkey’s Kürecik] away. The radar doesn’t work for us anyway,” he added, claiming that Turkey no longer needs to provide security for US troops deployed at İncirlik Airbase, which is located in the Turkey’s southeastern province of Adana.
In February 2020 Caşın took aim at Russia, threatening the Russian Federation with a war to break up Russia from inside by provoking Muslims there. He claimed the country “will be shattered from inside” if Turkey wages war against Russia. “We fought Russia 16 times and will fight it again,” he said.
In September 2020, Erdoğan’s advisor said Turkey would shoot down five or six Greek warplanes, paving the way for war with Greece. “Turkey is not a nation to be tested. A Turkish soldier’s bayonet is mounted and ready. … If there is even one Greek pilot who can shoot us, I will shoot that pilot myself in the middle of his forehead,” he said.