ISTANBUL - The seizure by police of one of Turkey’s largest media organizations critical of the ruling AKP Party, just days before a general election has provoked strong criticism and added to concerns over media freedom.
Police used tear gas and pepper spray during the raid that has been condemned by all of Turkey’s main opposition parties, accusing President Erdogan and the AKP of seeking to tighten its grip on the media ahead of the November 1 election.
Pro-Kurdish HDP Party leader Selahattin Demirtas warned Turkey is becoming a mafia-like state. He says it is unbelievable that a state; a government can act so, like a mafia, like an illegal organization right in the public eye. He added, it also raises suspicions just a couple of days before the election.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Mui?nieks, described the raid as a disturbing illustration of the dangerous path Turkey has undertaken in relation to media freedom.
But the AKP insists the judiciary is independent and the raid on the TV station was part of a court order seizing control of Ipek Koza conglomerate, which owns TV stations and newspapers along with 20 other companies.
The company is accused of being linked to the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen who lives in self-imposed exile in the Untied States. Prosecutors accuse Gulen of running a terrorist organization.
Gulen and his followers were once close Erdogan and AKP Party allies, but they have become bitter rivals.