The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), condemns the gun attack and death threat against Turkish-Cypriot journalist Sener Levent, editor of the newspaper Afirka.
On 25 February 2011, unknown attackers opened fire at Afrika’s office door. Levent and other journalists were working inside but nobody was wounded. One bullet hit the wall and the other lodged in the door. The attackers also left a note warning that next time the shots would target the journalist, rather than just his office door.
Afrika, formerly known as Avrupa, is no stranger to threats and law suits. Due to its critical reporting, the paper has been sued on numerous occasions and is involved in the highest number of legal cases in the territory controlled by the Turkish-Cypriot authorities. The combined prison sentences for the criminal law suits – if they had all resulted in convictions – would have run to close to 2,000 years. In recent years, SEEMO has reacted on numerous occasions and asked the authorities to respect media freedom. However, threats and pressures against Levent continue.
Outraged by the most recent acts of aggression against the newspaper, Turkish-Cypriot politicians visited Afrika to express solidarity and condemn the attack.
SEEMO calls on the authorities in Lefkosa to find and prosecute the perpetrators.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic strongly condemned the attack and said: “I expect the Turkish-Cypriot authorities to find the perpetrators and thereby show their true commitment to freedom of the press.”