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Turkish underworld joins war on journalists

Turkey's beleaguered press corps is now facing threats from the Turkish mafia, and the staff of a mildly oppositionist newspaper is under police protection.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY:  Convicted Turkish mafia boss Alaattin Cakici (L), escorted by anti-terror police, arrives at Istanbul criminal court, 14 October 2004. Cakici was extradited from Austria where he was arrested in July after fleeing Turkey and faces a series of charges, including murder, media reports said. AFP PHOTO/Mustafa Ozer  (Photo credit should read MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)

Government pressure on Turkish journalists is nothing new. But now the country’s beleaguered press corps is faced with an altogether new threat: the Turkish mafia. Six journalists and the owner of Karar, a mildly oppositionist newspaper, were placed under police protection after a notorious organized crime boss, Alaattin Cakici, called on his men to “punish them,” which in mafia speak is code for murder.

Cakici, who is in prison serving a 19-year sentence for ordering the 1995 execution of his ex-wife, made the call on Twitter. Cakici wrote, “Wherever they are spotted they will be definitely punished. … This is my appeal to those who love me.” Prosecutors have opened an investigation, but an undeterred Cakici took his campaign to another level today, claiming that “certain” Karar writers were acting in cahoots with the “liberal” and “pro-NATO” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

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