Police in riot gear have taken over Turkey’s opposition newspaper Zaman in a midnight raid using tear gas and water cannons.
Turkey’s highest-circulating newspaper is now under state control in another blow to press freedom in President Recep Erdogan’s Turkey.
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The government takeover of Today’s Zaman was evidently in response to Erdogan’s perception of the paper as a front for the Gülen movement — a social movement led by the Turkish scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen that is openly critical of Erdogan’s government.
Reporters Without Borders’ secretary general Christophe Deloire released a scathing statement about the takeover, calling the operation “ideological and unlawful.”
“Erdoğan is now moving from authoritarianism to all-out despotism,” Deloire wrote. “Not content with throwing journalists in prison for ‘supporting terrorism’ or having them sentenced to pay heavy fines for ‘insulting the ‘head of state,’ he is now going further by taking control ofTurkey’s biggest opposition newspaper.”
Cihan Haber Ajansı YouTube video:
Many Zaman journalists and spectators were live-tweeting the takeover.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) March 5, 2016
Turkish police force Zaman’s editor-in-chief out of the building. pic.twitter.com/Y47xd06HaL
— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) March 5, 2016
The seizure of Zaman was quite rough. I got handcuffed by the anti terror police and then arrested for four hours with the normal police.
— Frank Nordhausen (@NordhausenFrank) March 5, 2016
kadına yakın mesafeden pilastik mermi sıkmışlar… pic.twitter.com/BPPmSvh41T
— nihal yılmaz (@nihhalyilmaz) March 5, 2016
Three trustees, all openly supportive of Erdogan, were reportedly appointed to manage the paper. Turkish police continue to occupy Zaman’s headquarters, and the building’s internet connection has apparently been cut off.
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