'Attack on freedom of thought'

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has pledged to swiftly catch the perpetrators of what he called "an attack on freedom of thought".

Dink, 53, was shot at the entrance of the weekly Agos newspaper which he edited in the busy Sisli district, on the European side of the city.

Some 5,000 protesters, many carrying red carnations and pictures of Dink with the inscription "My dear brother" in Turkish, Armenian and English, gathered outside the Agos offices, demanding justice.

They chanted: "We are all Armenians, We are all Hrant Dink."

In Ankara, the country's capital, about 700 people, mainly trade unionists and human rights activists, held a peaceful sit-in in the central Kizilay square.

NTV news channel said Dink died instantly after being shot in the head and neck.

Dink 'threatened'

Erdal Dogan, Dink's lawyer, told the CNN-Turk news channel that his client had been receiving threats, but had not requested police protection.

"This is clearly a political murder. It is a planned and premeditated killing."

Derya Sazak,
columnist for Milliyet newspaper
In his latest column dated January 10, Dink wrote of a  "considerable group of people who see me as an enemy of the Turks",  saying he had received letters "full of anger and menace".

The United States, the European Union and Armenia have condemned the murder which Dink's colleagues and friends say was politically motivated.

Derya Sazak, a columnist for the daily newspaper Milliyet, said: "This is clearly a political murder. It is a planned and premeditated killing."

Jacques Chirac, the French president, sent a letter to Dink's widow which said: "I can't express strongly enough how I condemn this abominable act, which deprives Turkey of one of its most courageous and free voices."

Armenian deaths

Dink, a well-known and respected journalist, angered the judiciary and Turkish nationalists with his remarks on the World War I mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, which preceded the Turkish republic.

He always insisted that he was a citizen of Turkey and would never work against his country.

In July, the appeals court upheld a suspended six-month sentence against him for an article he wrote on the collective memory of the massacres.

Dink's conviction was the first under Article 301 of the new Turkish penal code, which deals with "insulting Turkishness" and has since been used to prosecute several other intellectuals.

Mesrob II, patriarch and the spiritual leader of Turkey's 80,000 Armenians, has proclaimed a 15-day period of mourning for Dink.

Source: Agencies