ESC FACTOR stories of Europe: Uğur Mumcu

ESC FACTOR stories of Europe: Uğur Mumcu


His mother was Nadire Mumcu and his father was Hakkı Şinasi Bey, a land registry officer. Uğur Mumcu was born on August 22, 1942 in Kırşehir, as the third of four siblings. He has a son (Özgür Mumcu) and a daughter (Özge) from his marriage to his wife Şükran Güldal Mumcu (Homan). A foundation named “Uğur Mumcu Investigative Journalism Foundation” was established in October 1994 by his family in memory of Uğur Mumcu. His wife, Şükran Güldal Mumcu, entered the 23rd Term Parliament as an İzmir deputy and served as the Deputy Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey between 10 August 2007 and 7 June 2015. His elder brother is Deputy Chairman of the Labor Party Atty. Some of Ceyhan Mumcu’s interviews about Uğur Mumcu were collected in a book called “My Brother Uğur Mumcu”.


Mumcu, who had his primary education at Ankara Devrim Primary School and his secondary education at Ankara Bahçelievler Trial High School, was a very active student. He started his university education in 1961 to become a lawyer and completed it in 1965 at Ankara University Faculty of Law. While still a student, he received the Yunus Nadi Award for his article titled “Turkish Socialism” published in Cumhuriyet newspaper on August 26, 1962. In 1963, he was elected president of the student association at the faculty. Between 1969 and 1972, he worked as an assistant to Tahsin Bekir Balta, Professor of Administrative Law at Ankara University Faculty of Law.

Military Period

As he was preparing to do his military service, he wrote in one of his articles on March 12, “The army must be awake.” He was detained for allegedly committing the crime of “insulting the army” and “establishing the domination of a social class over other social classes” with his words. Mumcu, who stayed in Mamak Military Prison for nearly a year with many intellectuals, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for this case. But this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court and Mumcu was released. After this incident, he completed his military service in the Patnos district of Ağrı between 1972-1974, although he had to do his military service as a reserve officer, as the official definition of “objectionable infantryman”. While doing his military service under severe conditions in Patnos, he suffered from stomach bleeding due to a long-standing ulcer.

Journalistic Life

Uğur Mumcu, who is a columnist for Yeni Ortam newspaper, started to write regularly in his column titled “Observation” (translated by the authors) in Cumhuriyet in 1975. He was also working at Anka Agency. In March 1975, he published his book, “The Criminals and The Powerfuls,” (translated by the authors) consisting of his articles. In the same year, the book titled “Furniture File”, (translated by the authors) was published. Made with Altan Öymen, it was about the imaginary furniture export of Süleyman Demirel’s nephew, Yahya Demire.

After 1977, he started to write only for Cumhuriyet. He wrote continuously until November 1991 in his column “Observation”. In 1977, the books “Objectionable Infantry” (translated by the authors) and “A Petition Without a Stamp” (translated by the authors) were published. The following year, he adapted his work “Objectionable Infantry” to the theater together with Rutkay Aziz. He staged the play 700 times at the Ankara Art Theatre. In 1978, his book “Our Elders” (translated by the authors), in which he told the life stories and political pasts of celebrities with a rich comedy, was published.

Uğur Mumcu, in an interview with Nuri Çolakoğlu and Ayça Abakan for BBC Turkish in London, explained that his political view was  democratic socialism with the following words:

“I have a socialist orientation in view. That is, I want the working classes to take over the administration in society. (…) I am increasing my socialist consciousness every day. (…) National independent left! I have a socialist orientation, I want the working class, working classes and ranks to come to power through democratic means. I have never given up on this view.” [2]

He criticized what happened in the process leading up to the 12th of September 1980 Coup in Turkey. Due to the increase in terrorist incidents in Turkey, he published his book “Dead End” (translated by the authors) in 1979, in which he reflected the experiences of youth leaders before and after the 12th of March period and pointed out that armed actions could not lead to anything. In his article published on March 7th, 1980, he criticized the environment of anarchy and terror with the following words:[3]

“Is this called leftism? Is leftism a banditry that rains bullets on poor soldiers and robs banks? If this is the case, let such leftism sink to the ground… Is this called nationalism? Is nationalism a monstrosity that kills prosecutors, judges, university professors, police chiefs, and drinks citizens’ blood? If so, let such nationalism sink into the ground…” 

After the murder of former prime minister Nihat Erim on July 19th, 1980, he criticized politicians who could not find a cure for terrorism in his article titled “Such War” (translated by the authors) written on July 21, 1980:[4]

“Is there another ‘multi-party life’ that irresponsibly sheds the blood of citizens with its workers, peasants, students, faculty members, military and civilians, educated and uneducated, on this scale?”

He defined the September 12th, 1980 Coup as “a natural event like the falling of rain”.[5] In an article he wrote on September 17th, 1980, a few days after the coup, he evaluated the period of March 12th and defined the actions of names such as Deniz Gezmiş and Mahir Çayan such as bank robbery, kidnapping and ransom demand as “individual terrorism” and stated that lessons should be learned from the past. In the same article, Mumcu wrote that “leftism that kills and commits murder is treason, murder and public enmity”.[6] In his article published on July 1st, 1983, he argued that “September 12th saved Turkey from the danger of a civil war, that it is not possible to find a solution to any problem without acknowledging and declaring it openly, that this is an objective fact and a concrete fact.”[7]

In 1981, “Arms Smuggling and Terror” (translated by the authors), which he wrote to reveal the relation of terrorism to arms smuggling and to warn the public about it, was published. In the same year, after Mehmet Ali Ağca’s attempt to kill the Pope, he intensified his studies and research on Ağca.

 In 1982, the “Ağca File”, followed by the article “Freedom without Terrorism” (translated by the authors), was published. He criticized the 1982 Constitution. In 1983, he interviewed Ağca in prison. In 1984 he participated in the preparation of the Intellectuals Petition, made by a group led by Aziz Nesin, which was submitted to the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey and the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. He wrote the play “Without Objections”  (translated by the authors) describing what was done to the intellectuals during the 12th of September period, and published the book “Papa-Mafia-Ağca”. 

He published the books “Rabıta” and “September 12th Justice” (translated by the authors),in 1987, which are considered great successes in terms of investigative journalism, and “Kurdish-Islamic Uprising 1919-1925” (translated by the authors), one of his most important researches, in 1991. 

He left the newspaper in 1991 together with İlhan Selçuk and approximately eighty Cumhuriyet newspaper employees. He was unemployed for a while. He wrote for the newspaper Milliyet between February 1st and May 3rd 1992, and returned to Cumhuriyet on May 7th, 1992 after the change of management in Cumhuriyet newspaper.

He defined the PKK as “a Kurdish nationalist terrorist organization that seeks results through violence”.[8] He reacted to associations, newspapers and the like that did not react to the massacres committed by the PKK. The Human Rights Association was one of the organizations that Mumcu criticized. 

He wrote an article titled “Mossad and Barzani” on 7th of January 1993. In this article, Barzani touched upon the links between the CIA and the Mossad and ended his article as follows:

“If the Kurds are fighting a war of independence against colonialism, what is the CIA and MOSSAD doing among the Kurds? Or is the CIA and MOSSAD fighting an anti-imperialist war and the world is not aware of this war?”

In his article titled “Ultimatum” in the newspaper Cumhuriyet on January 8th, 1993, he wrote that he would explain the connections between the intelligence agencies and the Kurdish nationalists in his book to be published soon.

Ceyhan Mumcu, his elder brother and Deputy Chairman of the Workers’ Party, wrote in a statement to the press that Uğur Mumcu had a meeting with the Israeli ambassador before the assassination.

Uğur Mumcu, whose journalistic life was full of success, was investigating the deep dimensions of the police-mafia-politics network before he died in a bomb attack on January 24th, 1993. It is claimed that he investigated the claim that Abdullah Öcalan worked for the National Intelligence Organization for a while as the reason for his murder. [9][10]


Uğur Mumcu was assassinated on January 24th, 1993, in front of his house on Karlı Sokak in Ankara, as a result of the explosion of a C-4 type plastic bomb placed in his car.[11] It was claimed that the experts who investigated the crime scene right after the assassination could not find any evidence, and the evidence that was scattered around by the explosion and that had to be collected with tweezers was swept away with a broom.[12]

His assassination; Organizations such as the Islamic Movement Front, IBDA-C and Hezbollah assumed responsibility.[13] It was also claimed that the Mossad and the counter-guerrilla were behind the assassination. In his statement in the indictment, Ümit Oğuztan, one of the defendants in the Ergenekon Case, claimed that Mumcu was killed because of his research on weapons, the serial number of which was deleted and taken to the Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Celal Talabani.[13] However, his elder brother, Ceyhan Mumcu, stated in his own research that when the relationship between Mossad and Barzani was revealed in a period close to his death, the Israeli Ambassador insisted on meeting with his brother Mumcu individually, but the meeting was held even though Uğur Mumcu did not accept to meet him alone.[14] Also, before the assassination, Uğur Mumcu was writing his book titled “The Kurdish File” (translated by the authors). In this book, he examined the emergence of the PKK, the Kurdish uprisings, Öcalan’s foreign support and the Barzani-Israel-Öcalan relationship. He died before he could finish his book. 

During the visits to Mumcu’s family after the assassination, then Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel, Deputy Prime Minister Erdal İnönü and Minister of Interior İsmet Sezgin stated that “to solve the murder is the state’s debt of honor”, they gave their solemn words. The perpetrators of the assassination could not be caught.[13] Özge Mumcu, Mumcu’s daughter, said in her statement to the February 28th documentary:

“As with every political murder, ‘It will definitely be solved. His blood will not stay on the ground. It is a debt of honor.’ They approached with the words of Demirel -he was the prime minister at that time-, the minister of interior was İsmet Sezgin, Erdal İnönü was the deputy prime minister. They all promised ‘honor debts’. At the funeral, when they came to the scene, they were all…But nobody could fulfill their debt of honor.” [15]

Sedat Peker’s Statements

Sedat Peker, identified as the leader of an organized crime group, claimed that the assassination was orchestrated by Mehmet Ağar via YouTube on May 23rd, 2021:[16]

“Uğur Mumcu, you can agree or disagree with his opinion, I think he is a martyr. He was an honest man, an honorable man, and above all an honest man, why was he killed? Look at the writings he wrote when he was killed: terror lords feeding on terror, working on it. There are always drug fields and sales in terror zones, and always the arms trade. Uğur Mumcu is being martyred, who is the first to come to him? The killers come first: Mehmet Agar! He says to his wife: ‘I know him by fame, he is the best person in the world.’ ‘I,’ he says, ‘If I pull a brick from here, the state will collapse down!’, this is a famous saying, those who are  in the state know this.”[17]

After Sedat Peker’s statements, Uğur Mumcu’s wife and former CHP Deputy Güldal Mumcu spoke as follows:[17]

“For years we said: ‘Uğur Mumcu Murder’ should be clarified, whoever knows anything to shed light on Uğur Mumcu’s Murder, please tell us, no matter who is involved.’ So pull the bricks, let the wall come down, no matter who will be under it!”