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Pedestrians walk along Istiklal Street, in central Istanbul, in 2016. Police on March 28 raided the pro-Kurdish daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, based in the district. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

Turkish authorities seize control of pro-Kurdish national daily

March 28, 2018 4:05 PM ET

Istanbul, March 28, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the takeover today by a government-affiliated body of one of the last remaining pro-Kurdish national dailies and called for authorities to immediately release at least 10 media staff detained during the raid and to return the outlet to its rightful management.

According to news reports, Istanbul police in the early hours broke into a building in Beyoğlu district that houses Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and its printer, Gün Printing House. Police told the daily's legal team that Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), a government-controlled insurer and fund manager, had taken over the newspaper and its printing house, but did not provide further explanation, according to the reports.

"We condemn this morning's raid on Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and call on police to immediately release the staff detained," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova in New York. "Turkey should restore the daily and its printing presses to their rightful owner and end its tactic of forcibly taking over independent or pro-opposition newspapers."

According to the daily Evrensel, police detained Özgürlükçü Demokrasi's publisher İhsan Yaşar, Gün Printing House's owner Kasım Zengin, and at least eight printing house workers during the raid. Police did not publicly give a reason for why they are being held.

Since 2016, CPJ has documented several cases of Turkish authorities ordering the takeover of the management and boards of independent news outlets, including prominent TV channels and newspapers.

The raid on Özgürlükçü Demokrasi comes days after an EU-Turkey meeting in Varna, Bulgaria, at which President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker raised concerns about Turkey's actions, including the mass jailing of journalists.

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