Turkish police forces have launched raids on the offices of television stations linked to US-based cleric and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s arch-foe Fethullah Gulen.
Police raided the Bugun and Kanalturk stations in the city of Istanbul on Wednesday, taking on their entrances with chainsaws and prompting brawls.
Bugun’s editor-in-chief, Tarik Toros, and lawmakers from the country’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were seen in video footage arguing with police forces.
“Dear viewers, do not be surprised if you see police in our studio in the next few minutes,” Toros told the camera.
Reports have not clarified why the CHP lawmakers were present at the site at the time of the raids.
‘Shameful day’ for Turkey
Toros, Bugun’s chief editor, said, “This is an operation to silence all the dissident voices that the ruling party does not like, including media outlets, opposition parties and businessmen. This is true for anyone who does not obey.”
Referring to the police raids, CHP lawmaker, Baris Yarkadas, was quoted in a Wednesday AFP story as saying that, “Today is a shameful day.... Everyone who made this decision and those who implemented it will have to answer for their crimes before history.”
The television stations belong to the Koza-Ipek Group, a conglomerate linked to Gulen, who Erdogan has accused of plotting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The influential cleric denies the accusation.
On Monday, a Turkish court issued a controversial ruling, appointing a board of trustees to manage the group, whose business also covers energy and construction, after seizing its 21 companies.
The office of Ankara’s chief prosecutor has alleged that the seizure was linked to an ongoing probe into the conglomerate on suspicion of “terror financing” and “terror propaganda.” The office accused the group of supporting Gulen’s Hizmet (Service) movement.
Reacting to the statement, Koza-Ipek CEO Akin Ipek denounced the move as “politically motivated,” saying the government took action after failing to find anything illegal during inspections.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Turkish police clashed with demonstrators protesting against the recent seizure of Koza-Ipek in the capital, Ankara, and in Istanbul.