A Turkish newspaper has claimed one of its journalists has been ordered to leave the country and was escorted onto a plane by police.
It comes after Mahir Zeynalov – the online editor of Today’s Zaman daily – reportedly criticised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.
“A body linked to the prime minister received a tip that I insulted high-level officials and informed the Interior Ministry (which) decided to deport me,” Zeynalov said by phone from the Azeri capital Baku, adding his application to renew his permit to work as a journalist in Turkey had been denied last month.
Zeynalov – who is from Azerbaijan – said he had turned himself in at Istanbul airport and been ordered to pay a 103 lira ($46) fine before being put on a plane out of Turkey.
An aide to the prime minister said no instructions had been given from the PM’s office.
His newspaper is close to influential US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, locked in a feud with Erdogan revolving around a corruption scandal shaking his government.
“This is an utterly despotic and arbitrary decision,” said Bulent Kenes, editor in chief of Today’s Zaman. “We don’t see it as an attack against our paper, it’s an attempt to intimidate all foreign journalists working in Turkey.”