The Turkish government has seized control of another news agency just days after the seizure of the popular opposition newspaper Zaman.
The Cihan news agency reported on its website on Monday that the operation had been carried out on the orders of a state prosecutor and that a court in the city would designate its current administrator’s replacement.
The repressive move comes after criticism from European officials over Turkeys crackdown on opposition media.
The news agency Cihan is believed to be close to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Monday it posted a statement on its website which said an Istanbul court would appoint an administrator to run it. The ruling was made on a request from prosecutors investigating Gulen, who is suspected by the Turkish government of plotting a coup.
The development came just days after the popular opposition newspaper Zaman was seized by the Turkish government in a similar way. Both the news agency and the newspaper are part of the Feza Gazetecilik media company.
Other media outlets and businesses affiliated with Gulen’s movement were taken over last year as the investigation was underway.
The crackdown was condemned by rights groups and several European politicians, although criticism was muted from European leaders, who were negotiating on Monday a deal with Turkey on handling the refugee flow into the EU.
“The press must be free everywhere, including everywhere in Turkey,” said French President Francois Hollande, one of the few to make a public statement on Turkish actions. He added that the EU’s co-operation with Turkey “doesn’t mean we accept whatever Turkey does.”
Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, said media freedom was “untouchable,” while his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel said: “It can’t be that just because of the migration crisis we throw other values out of the window, like freedom of the press.”
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