ISTANBUL: Turkish police have raided the headquarters of popular newspaper Zaman in the northwestern city of Istanbul in a fresh crackdown on media outlets critical of the government.
Zaman said Turkeys riot police armed with water cannon gathered outside the Turkish-language papers offices late Wednesday, while lawyers and officers searched the buildings.
The daily condemned the raid as a threat to the free media. Zaman media group lawyers also published a statement describing the operation as shameful and illegal at a time that the country hosts the G20 summit this weekend.
The incident follows a similar operation against some opposition television stations last month.
Zaman and the other media outlets targeted in police raids are reportedly linked to Turkeys US-based cleric, Muhammed Fethullah Gulen, whom the government in Ankara regards as an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Wednesdays operation came in the wake of claims that Zaman was printing a pirate version of a newspaper belonging to the Koza-Ipek conglomerate, whose companies were seized last month as part of an investigation against Gulen.
Last month, Bulent Kenes, the editor-in-chief of Todays Zaman, the English version of Zaman, was taken into custody on charges of insulting Erdogan on Twitter. He was taken away from the newspapers office in Istanbul and his arrest was televised live.
In recent months, the Turkish government has intensified crackdown on its rivals. Turkish journalists and writers have held a series of demonstrations to protest against what they call growing suppression of media and threats against reporters in the country.
Earlier this week, the European Union blasted Turkey for failing to respect human rights and media freedom, calling on Ankara to urgently address the flaws.
Highlighting intimidation of media outlets, criminal cases against journalists and changes to Internet law, the EU said under Erdogan there has been serious backsliding on freedom of speech and assembly.
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