ANKARA 

Turkish and Azerbaijani NGOs in the US expressed “grave concern” on Monday about California governor’s decision to not appeal a court decision to release on parole an Armenian national who assassinated a Turkish diplomat in 1982. 

They include Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), US Azerbaijanis Network, Turkish American Anti-Defamation Alliance, and Turkish American Political Action Committee. 

Hampig Sassounian was convicted of fatally shooting Turkey’s Consul General in Los Angeles Kemal Arikan nearly four decades ago while he sat in his car at an intersection in Los Angeles. 

“Since Governor [Gavin] Newsom’s announcement, families of more than 40 Turkish diplomats assassinated by Armenian terrorists, have been receiving crude threats at www.StopTerroristParole.org, the latest being, “Hampig or Recognize 1915” and “F__You People,” said the NGOs in a statement. 

Previous judicial rulings to release Sassounian on parole were blocked by California’s governors, including Newsom, who rejected his eligibility. However, Newsom reversed course, announcing that he will not appeal the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s recent decision for Sassounian’s release.

“Throughout, the California Parole Board deliberately did not inform the victims, the Arikan Family, and the Republic of Turkey, regarding the parole process, effectively ambushing the people of Turkey and victims of terrorism globally,” the statement said. “Nor did California keep the federal government informed, though required by law.”

Arikan was among four Turkish diplomats assassinated on American soil along with Los Angeles Consul General Mehmet Baydar, Los Angeles Vice Consul Bahadir Demir and Boston Honorary Consul Orhan Gunduz, it noted.

Arikan was martyred on Jan. 28, 1982 by Sassounian and his accomplice Krikor Saliba on behalf of an Armenian terrorist group. Sassounian was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

Fugitive terrorist Saliba was claimed to have been killed in the Lebanese civil war in 1982.

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