Police in the Turkish city of Istanbul stormed the offices of opposition television station Bugun TV during a live broadcast on Wednesday (October 28), just days before a general election.
The raid is part of a crackdown on companies linked to a preacher who is an arch enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Footage showed police spraying water cannnon at people in front of Koza Ipek outlet Bugun TV, which is owned by cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused of plotting to overthrow the president.
Authorities on Tuesday took over 22 companies owned by Koza Ipek in an investigation of alleged financial irregularities, including whether it funded Gulen. The company denies wrongdoing.
Erdogan has clamped down on commercial interests belonging to once-influential followers of Gulen, his former ally, after police and prosecutors considered sympathetic to the cleric opened a corruption investigation of Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.
Legal action against more opposition newspapers, including the nationalist Sozcu newspaper, is planned for after the vote, said Aydin Unal, a lawmaker in the ruling AK Party.
“After November 1, we will hold them accountable. Sozcu newspaper insults us every day,” Unal, a former Erdogan adviser, told A Haber channel on Tuesday.
“There is a lot of pressure on Turkey. If we say something, the world accuses us of interfering with the press, so we’re not in a comfortable position now, but after November 1 we will settle up with all of them,” said Unal.
The European Union has raised concerns about freedom of expression within Turkey which is negotiating EU membership.
Rights groups questioned the move against opposition media outlets so close to an election.
“The government’s seizure of Koza Ipek undermines the fairness of the November 1 parliamentary elections,” Robert Herman of Freedom House said in an e-mailed statement, calling the takeovers of the media firms “censorship.”
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