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Journalist assaulted by bodyguards

(BIANET/IFEX) - 2 April 2010 - Reporter Cenker Tezel, who works for the magazine department of "Hürriyet" newspaper, was attacked by the bodyguards of Mutasim Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammer al-Gaddafi, on 30 March 2010.

Tezel had learned from the news editor at "Hürriyet" that Gaddafi's son was in Istanbul enjoying a night out at Al Jamal, a restaurant that turns into a club at night. When the reporter tried to take a picture of Mutasim Gaddafi, he was assaulted by Gaddafi's body guards.

The reporter was injured and his camera broken. Emrah Güner, a cameraman for the privately owned Fox TV, was also attacked in the incident. One of Gaddafi's bodyguards, Nagielmas Bahi, suffered a minor head injury.

The Turkish Journalists' Society (TGC) said that the officious attitude of the police towards the aggressors made the incident worse. The TGC conveyed its best wishes for a swift recovery to the victims saying, "We urge officials and members of security in particular to review their attitude towards journalists."

Tezel was taken into custody on assault charges and remained behind bars until the next morning, when he was handcuffed and taken to court. He was not allowed to speak to his lawyer and was kept waiting to give his statement about the assault. He was finally released after giving his statement to the prosecutor.

In an announcement made after his release, Tezel explained that he had gone to the restaurant on an assignment. He apparently talked to the doormen for a while before entering. The journalist said that he got his camera ready when Gaddafi was about to leave. Then one of the bodyguards attacked him, Tezel recalled.

Tezel said a scuffle between him and the bodyguards then followed, and that one bodyguard lunged at him. Other people at the scene encouraged the bodyguard.

"They tried to get hold of my camera and destroy it. I took the camera and tried to get away but they caught me. They tried to get the pictures from my camera. Five or six people confronted me. There was a row again. Then they told me they were from the police and we went to the police station. There they accused me of having assaulting them."

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