boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Turkish teen said to kill journalist

Ethnic Armenian shot near office

A prosecutor says Ogun Samast has confessed . A prosecutor says Ogun Samast has confessed .

ISTANBUL -- A teenage boy has confessed to fatally shooting an ethnic Armenian journalist outside his newspaper office in a brazen daytime attack, a prosecutor said yesterday .

Ogun Samast, described as 16 or 17, was caught in the Black Sea city of Samsun late Saturday, a day after the journalist Hrant Dink was gunned down in Istanbul. Police said the youth was captured following a tip from his father after his pictures were broadcast on Turkish television.

Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin of Istanbul said authorities were investigating whether Samast acted alone. Police detained six other suspects in the nearby city of Trabzon on Saturday, and three more yesterday , the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the swift work of police, saying, "This is a lesson to those who want to shoot at freedoms . . . to those who don't want calm to reign in Turkey."

He promised a thorough investigation and appeared to blame nationalist groups for the slaying. He said they were intent on turning Turkey into an insular country.

"I cannot think of anything worse for Turkey. Those people . . . can never call themselves patriots. Our people will never forgive them," Erdogan said.

Chief prosecutor Ahmet Cokcinar said Samast had confessed to killing Dink during initial questioning in Samsun. He declined to give further details.

The private news agency Dogan, and its sister company, CNN-Turk television, said the teenager told the prosecutor he shot Dink because the journalist had allegedly insulted Turks in opinions posted on the Internet. Neither news organization said how it got its information.

Dink's death highlighted the precarious state of freedom of expression in a country that is seeking European Union membership.

Most Turks say Dink, 52, editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was targeted for his columns that described as genocide the killing of ethnic Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century. Nationalists consider such statements an insult to Turkey's honor and a threat to its unity, and Dink had received numerous threats to his life.

Novelist Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize recipient, blamed Dink's killing on defenders of a law that makes it a crime to insult Turkey, its government or character.

"We are all responsible for his death in a way. But above all, I think it is those who still defend [the law] who are responsible for this death," he said.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES