İpekçi was born in Istanbul, Turkey. After finishing high school at Galatasaray High School in 1948, he attended law school at Istanbul University for a while. He started his professional career as a sports reporter for the newspaper Yeni Sabah, and transferred later to Yeni İstanbul. In 1954, he joined the newspaper Milliyet as its publishing manager, and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 1959.
A respected journalist, he was a proponent of the separation of religion and state, and an advocate of dialogue and conciliation with Greece, as well as of human rights for the various minorities in Turkey.
On 1 February 1979, two members of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, Oral Çelik and Mehmet Ali Ağca (who later shot pope John Paul II), murdered Abdi İpekçi in his car on the way back home from his office in front of his apartment building in Istanbul. Ağca was caught due to an informant and was sentenced to life in prison. After serving six months in a military prison in Istanbul, Ağca escaped with the help of military officers and the Grey Wolves, fleeing first to Iran and then to Bulgaria, which was then a base of operation for the Turkish mafia.
According to reporter Lucy Komisar, Mehmet Ali Ağca had worked with Abdullah Çatlı in this 1979 murder, who "then reportedly helped organize Ağca's escape from the prison, and some have suggested Çatlı was even involved in the Pope's assassination attempt". Ağca later became famous for his failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981. According to Reuters, Ağca had "escaped with suspected help from sympathizers in the security services".
Writer Çetin Altan said a journalist colleague who was a former admiral intelligence officer of the chiefs of staff, Sezai Orkunt, had informed him that the clandestine Counter-Guerrilla murdered İpekçi at the behest of the CIA's station chief in Turkey. İpekçi had learned that the counter-guerrilla were inducting civilians into a clandestine anti-communist organization without the knowledge of the Turkish chief of staff. He knew that the counter-guerrilla were subordinate to the CIA, whose station chief at the time was Paul Henze. İpekçi thus asked Henze to stop the CIA's illegal activities. Other sources also name Henze as the instigator.
Abdi İpekçi was interred at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Sibel, daughter Nükhet and son Sedat.
The street on which he lived and was murdered was renamed Abdi İpekçi Avenue. On 1 February 2000, a statue erected by the Municipality of Şişli near the place where he was murdered was unveiled in his commemoration. It was designed by the architect Erhan İşözen, and the 3.5 m high bronze sculpture created by Gürdal Duyar stands on a 0.70 m high granite base. The memorial depicts İpekçi's bust held by one male and one female student with a dove atop symbolizing peace.
The Ipekci Peace and Friendship Prize was established in 1981 to honor people who improved the relations between Greece and Turkey. The award is presented every two years on a rotational basis in Athens and Istanbul. Recipients have included the photographer Nikos Economopoulos.
- Ganser, Daniele, NATO's secret armies: operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe, (Routledge, 2005), 238.
- "Man who shot pope must return to jail: Turkish court," 20 January 2006, Reuters.
- "İpekçi cinayetinde 18 yıl sonra yeni bir iddia", Yeni Yüzyıl, 16 January 1997: Abdi vurulduktan bir süre sonra gazeteye uğradım. O sırada gazeteye yazılar da yazan emekli amiral Sezai Orkunt’la rastlaştık. “Paşam bizim Abdi’yi niye vurdular” dedim. O da bana, “Abdi, askerlerin geniş arazilerde bazı sivillere kontrgerilla eğitimi verdiğini öğrenmiş. Sonra da Ankara’ya gidip CIA şefiyle bunu konuşmuş. Ardından da vuruldu. Halbuki Genelkurmayın haberi olmadan böyle talimlerin yapılamayacağını bilmesi lazımdı” dedi. Abdi’nin böyle bir tarafı da vardı. Rahmetli bir şey öğrendiğinde önce yazmak yerine, düzeltilsin diye gidip ilgililerle konuşurdu.
Quoted in "Susurluk’ta bütün yollar, devlete uğrayarak CIA’ya çıkar". Kurtuluş Yolu (in Turkish) 4 (39). 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- Mercan, Faruk (2006-01-09). "İlk Özel Harpçi Orgeneral". Aksiyon (in Turkish) 579. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
Sonraki yıllarda yazar Çetin Altan, 1979'da öldürülen Milliyet gazetesi başyazarı Abdi İpekçi olayının bir Kontrgerilla işi olduğu iddiasını ortaya attı. Altan, 'Bana bunu Genelkurmay İstihbaratında çalışmış olan Amiral Sezai Orkunt söyledi. Abdi, bazı sivillere Kontrgerilla eğitimi verildiğini öğrenmiş ve Ankara'ya gidip bunu CIA Ankara İstasyon şefi ile konuşmuş.' dedi.[dead link]
- Kivanc, Taha (1998-02-03). "Önemli bir kazanım". Zaman (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "İpekçi suikastinde 'DESİSE'". Kültür-Sanat. Yeni Şafak (in Turkish). 2005-12-22. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "Abdi İpekçi ilkeleriyle anılacak". Milliyet (in Turkish). 2000-01-31. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
- Press release for "Nikos Economopoulos" (PDF file), Maison Robert Doisneau, Communauté d'Agglomération de Val de Bièvre, 2009. (French) Accessed 2010-01-18.
- "World Press Freedom Heroes: Symbols of courage in global journalism". International Press Institute. 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.