Investigative journalist Hasan Tolga Balcılar who has been working on corruption claims and went through house raids three times in less than a week said "there are no verdicts against me but I was reverse-cuffed, they pointed a gun at my wife. I am giving up the profession, I cannot make my family go through these."
Hasan Tolga Balcılar has been working as a journalist for the last seven years in the southern city of Osmaniye in Turkey. He has been investigating the claims of corruption at the Osmaniye Municipality that is governed by the government-ally far right Nationalist Movement Party MHP. Following his investigation of the claims of corruption, he has been subjected to house raids three times. Balcılar participated in the radio show Evening Issue, hosted by Atilla Güner on RS FM, "there are no verdicts against me but I was reverse-cuffed, they pointed a gun at my wife. I am giving up the profession, I cannot make my family go through these. My wife had never been to a police precinct before, and she is devastated. I have a 2.5 year old daughter."
"THREATS OR MONEY"
Balcılar is the holder of a press card which is not a common practice in Turkey among independent journalists due to government's policy of introducing tough requirements to obtain a press card which is hardly given to journalists working for critical outlets. Balcılar says, "Osmaniye is a small town and they are able to prevent publication of such news articles. They either threaten the journalists or offer them money in exchange for the journalist's silence. They offered me money first, and I published the screenshots of the offer. Those who are offering me the money were those who won the municipality's tendering. They told me 'drop this issue and we will advertise on your platform, we can pay you.' This was to silence the story."
"I am giving up the profession, I will no longer work as a journalist. We are saying there is a problem, state tells me 'why are you creating a problem'. They are not asking what the problem is; the state is asking 'why are you creating a problem, who is behind you, who are you serving?' As the state they should tell me 'what is the problem, I will investigate, let me resolve this'. I was born and raised in this city, I have never had any problem with anyone in this city before in my life, but they do not want to understand the ongoing problem here. No one is aware of the amount of money involved in this. They say 'Devlet Bahçeli [leader of MHP] knows what is going on' but they are lying. He has no idea what is going on, they are not reflecting the truth to him. They are leading people into a sleep and in the meantime double their wealth. The man who was cycling to the municipality only days ago is now sitting on top of a wealth of millions of dollars, and when I write about this sudden acquisition of wealth I get blamed. I challenged them to open a court case, to see the facts. If I lose the court case I accept the verdict."
"NO ONE SUPPORTED ME"
"My house was raided three times because of this news. My wife had never been to a police precinct before, and she is devastated. I have a 2.5 year old daughter. The state, instead of taking me under protection is doing these to me by the hand of the chief of police, what a pity. The police officers have confessed to the orders given to the chief of police, I have a copy of the record too. In metropolises some things are much easier but in a small city like Osmaniye they would not let me speak up. They are covering up everything. I am unable to find any further solution. They would accuse me of treason but they cannot find any excuse to accuse me. No one supported me in Osmaniye..."