Turkey arrests suspect in death of Armenian editor

By Paul de Bendern and Selcuk Gokoluk
Saturday, January 20, 2007; 6:22 PM

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police on Saturday arrested the suspected killer of a prominent Turkish-Armenian writer who had angered nationalists with articles referring to a Turkish "genocide" of Armenians.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he was pleased the suspect had been arrested in such a short time.

"The suspected murderer of Hrant Dink, Ogun Samast, was caught in Samsun," Erdogan told a news conference.

Erdogan said it was too early to say whether Samast had links to any organizations and the police investigation was continuing.

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said Samast, a 17-year-old unemployed youth from the Black Sea coastal town of Trabzon, and six other people also detained would be brought to Istanbul for questioning.

Police arrested Samast after his father informed authorities that the picture shown on television was his son.

Dink was the editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and Turkey's best known Armenian voice abroad. He was shot in broad daylight as he left his office in Istanbul on Friday.

"I am declaring once more as an answer to provocateurs who have blood on their hands that bullets fired at Hrant Dink were fired at all of us," Erdogan told his AK Party earlier.

"We are aware of our responsibility as the government and we're making this a priority ... Hrant Dink was a son of this land."

Newspapers criticized the government for failing to protect Dink despite a series of threats made against him. They said racism and nationalism, which is on the rise ahead of elections in May and November, were ultimately to blame for his death.

Dink, 52, was a Christian of Armenian descent. He was frequently criticized by Turkish nationalists, including top politicians and prosecutors, for saying the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One was genocide.

Nationalists see such comments as a threat to national unity. The government of Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim, denies genocide was committed and says both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in large numbers as the Ottoman Empire was breaking up.

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