Mehmet Ali Birand
The Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent Turkish journalist who advocated minority rights and democracy in Turkey during a career spanning 48 years, has died. He was 71.
His son Umur says Birand, who had cancer, died in Istanbul Thursday from an infection.
Birand began his career with Milliyet newspaper in 1964 but became better known for a series of interviews and documentaries produced in the 1980s. His books on Turkey's EU membership bid, its military and its invasion of Cyprus were translated into several languages.
Birand was among a number of liberal journalists who were fired by their bosses in 1997 under pressure from the military, which also toppled a pro-Islamic government.
Birand, who was anchoring Kanal D station's prime-time nightly news, is survived by his wife and son.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, center, and his wife Hayrunnisa Gul, right, welcome Mehmet Ali Birand, a leading Turkish journalist, during a reception at the Cankaya presidential palace after ceremonies marking the 87th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. On Turkey's anniversary celebrations, all eyes are on the head of the president's wife. In a gesture that strikes at the heart of a wrenching debate over secularism and piety, Hayrunnisa Gul is to wear an Islamic headscarf at a reception marking the founding of modern Turkey by Ataturk _ whose secular principles are revered by the nation's traditional establishment with almost religious fervor.