Turkish police fire tear gas, enter Zaman newspaper after seizure order

By REUTERS
March 5, 2016 03:56
1 minute read.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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ISTANBUL-Police evacuate Zaman newspaper headquarters after seizure order.

Turkish police fired tear gas and used water cannon on a crowd to forcibly enter the country's top-selling newspaper on Friday after a court ordered its confiscation, live web footage showed.

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Several hundred supporters had gathered outside Zaman newspaper to protest the ruling which state media said was issued following a request by a prosecutor investigating U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, once a close ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, now stands accused of plotting to topple the government after a corruption scandal was leaked in 2013 by police suspected of belonging to his religious movement.

The paper's Editor-in-chief  Abdulhamit Bilici remarked that Turkey is going through a "dark period." "Unfortunately it has been a habit for the last three, four years that anyone who is speaking against the government policies is facing either court cases or prison or such control by the government." Bilici continued, "And I think this is a dark period for our country, for our democracy. But I don't think that this dark period will continue. It cannot be sustained and it cannot be continued."

 The crackdown on Zaman comes at an already worrying time for press freedom in Turkey.

Two prominent journalists from the pro-opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper are facing potential life sentences on charges of endangering state security for publishing material that purports to show intelligence officials trucking arms to Syria.

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