Turkey takes over opposition news agency


Turkish authorities have seized control of Cihan News Agency and intend to appoint a court-picked administrator as head of the Istanbul-based outlet in yet another repressive measure against opposition media.

The 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 agency is part of the Feza Media Group, which also includes Zaman and Today’s Zaman newspapers.

Feza Media is said to have close connections with Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric and an outspoken opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his policies.

The Turkish leader has accused Gulen and his followers of plotting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a charge that Gulen denies.

In a similar move last Friday, police forces stormed Zaman’s office to enforce a court ruling to place it and its subsidiary outlets under the management of trustees.

The opposition newspaper switched to a pro-government line after the seizure, placing on the front page of its last Sunday edition a picture of Erdogan holding the hand of an elderly woman.

The paper’s takeover triggered massive nationwide protests, which police violently quashed with water cannons and teargas.

Erdogan and Gulen were allies until police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to the latter opened a corruption investigation into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.

The investigation led to the resignation of the ministers of economy, interior, and urbanization. Gulen is also viewed to be behind the leaks that led to the probe. 

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