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Turkey Ignores ‘European Values’, Seizes Control Of News Agency In Further Crackdown On Government Critics

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish authorities have seized control of the Cihan news agency, according to a statement from Cihan, widening the crackdown against supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (pictured), an influential foe of President Tayyip Erdogan.

Cihan said on its website late on Monday an Istanbul court would appoint an administrator to run the agency on a request from a state prosecutor, days after authorities seized control of the leading Gulen-linked newspaper, Zaman.

That seizure prompted international alarm about press freedom in Turkey and was discussed at Monday’s European Union summit with Ankara over the migration crisis.

France’s foreign minister said the decision to seize control of Zaman, Turkey’s largest newspaper by circulation, was “unacceptable” and went against European values.

Both Cihan and Zaman are part of the Feza Gazetecilik media company.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of conspiring to overthrow the government by building a network of supporters in the judiciary, police and media. Gulen denies the charges.

The two men were allies until police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to Gulen opened a corruption investigation into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.

At the start of March, Turkish authorities shut down media businesses seized last year from Koza Ipek Holding, a conglomerate linked to Gulen.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Andrew Heavens)

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