A correspondent for Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine has been forced to temporarily leave Turkey after he received thousands of death threats over his article on the country’s worst mining disaster.
“I was not withdrawn” by the magazine, Hasnain Kazim, the Istanbul-based correspondent, told AFP in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“I am just spending a few days somewhere else to be on the safe side. In a few days I will be back in Istanbul and continue to do my work,” he said.
In his article, Kazim quoted a miner from the western town of Soma saying, “Go to hell, Erdogan,” in a show of anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the mining disaster that claimed 301 lives.
Kazim said he has received over 10,000 threats via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, adding that a few hundreds of them were death threats.
“Get out of my country you filthy pig,” one Twitter user wrote.
Kazim said he did not express his or Der Spiegel’s views in the article but just quoted a miner.
“I reported from Soma and quoted one surviving worker with the words: ‘I would not have said this earlier, but now I want to tell Erdogan: Go to hell!'”, he said.
“AKP trolls did not see or did not want to see that this was a quote but considered me and Der Spiegel to have said that,” he added, referring to Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Unfortunately, several papers and TV channels spread that, too – some close to the government to show Germany’s ‘evil’ character, some critical of the government to misuse me as their spokesperson.”