Turkish police raid media group critical of Erdogan

Turkish police on Tuesday staged a major swoop on the Ankara-based offices of a media group critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and close to his political nemesis, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 01, 2015, 15:07 PM IST

Ankara: Turkish police on Tuesday staged a major swoop on the Ankara-based offices of a media group critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and close to his political nemesis, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Masked police broke into and searched a number of offices belonging to Koza-Ipek Media, which owns several newspapers and two television channels, the Dogan news agency reported.

The raid targeted 23 offices in Ankara belonging to its parent company Koza Ipek Holding "as part of a terrorist investigation into Fethullah Gulen", the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

It said the conglomerate`s chief executive, Akin Ipek, was overseas.

The Ipek Media Group owns the Turkish dailies Bugun and Millet, the television channels stations Bugun TV and Kanalturk and the website BGNNews.com.

Several days ago, Fuat Avni, a mysterious Twitter user who has previously released sensitive claims about Erdogan`s entourage, had warned of an imminent police raid targeting opposition media as the government wages a major campaign against Kurdish rebels.

It also comes just two months before Turkey heads into an election, the second in five months, after talks to form a coalition collapsed.

Erdogan has accused his US-based nemesis Gulen, a former ally-turned-foe who leads a broad movement known as "Hizmet" (Service), of trying to create a "parallel state" with the aim of overthrowing his government.

The movement brings together a wide range of interests, from schools and media to finance, and is believed to be have the support of millions of Turks.

Gulen has lived in exile in the United States since 1999, when the secular authorities charged him with seeking to destroy the state.

For several years he was seen as a close ally of Ergodan and his Islamic-rooted AKP. But in 2013 the authorities blamed Gulen for corruption allegations that rocked Erdogan and the ruling elite, and launched an all-out war against him and his supporters.

The government has repeatedly tried and failed to block Avni`s presence on Twitter but he simply moves to another account.

"Erdogan has ordered that critical media be silenced," wrote Avni.

Besides the Ipek group, Avni said two other opposition dailies, Sozcu and Tarak, were in the firing line as well as media owned by Dogan Group, the biggest independent press group in the country.