A man who confessed to inciting the murder of a prominent journalist shouted what appeared to be a threat against another leading Turkish intellectual on Wednesday, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk.
“Orhan Pamuk, be smart! Be smart!” Yasin Hayal shouted as he was being brought to an Istanbul courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. Police quickly pressed Hayal’s head down to silence him and led him away.
Hayal, a militant nationalist who served time in prison for a 2004 bomb attack, confessed to inciting last week’s slaying of the influential ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and to providing a gun and money to the alleged killer, police said.
Hayal allegedly told the killer that Dink, who angered nationalists by calling the mass killing of Armenians in the early 20th century genocide, was “a traitor to his country who insults Turks.”
The suspected triggerman, a teenager named Ogun Samast, confessed to shooting Dink in a four-page statement given to prosecutors Wednesday, and was formally charged with the murder, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
Samast told police Hayal gave him money and a picture of the journalist that he carried with him for several months, the news agency reported.
Dink, editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, had been brought to trial numerous times for allegedly “insulting Turkishness,” a crime under the notorious Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code.
Like Dink, Pamuk also faced trial in Turkey for commenting on the killings of Armenians and had been accused of treason for doing so. And like Dink, he said he received death threats and considered leaving the country because of them.
Pamuk’s case was thrown out on a technicality, and he went on to win the Nobel Prize in literature last year. He was the first Turk to do so.
Dink’s murder inspired an outpouring of support for liberal values, including freedom of expression, tolerance and reconciliation between Armenians and Turks, with more than 100,000 people marching in his funeral procession on Tuesday.
But Hayal’s comments raised fears that Turkey may continue to be a dangerous place for intellectuals who openly express their ideas.
Most Turks suspect that the killer — who as a teenager will likely receive a lessened prison sentence if convicted — may have ties to ultra-nationalist groups.
Dink himself had said that he was being threatened by elements of the “deep state,” a term for a shadowy network inside the Turkish military, intelligence and political circles that is believed to use clandestine methods to defend the state against perceived threats.
Amid a period of national introspection, Dink’s family has called on Turks to look at how they have permitted the creation of an atmosphere that led to his killing.
Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said the crime was carried out by “circles who do not want Turkey to develop and reach the level of prosperous and modern countries.” Aksu condemned the attack, saying it had no justification and was being “investigated in great detail.”