Journalists arrested as Ankara steps up crackdown on dissent
Turkish authorities ordered the formal arrest of nine staff members of a leading opposition newspaper and detained more pro-Kurdish officials, widening an anti-terror probe that has drawn condemnation from the west.
The arrests, a day after the co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples Democratic party (HDP) were jailed pending trial, are likely to spark more concern among Turkeys allies about President Recep Tayyip Erdoans intolerance of dissent.
More than 110,000 officials, including judges, teachers, police and civil servants, have been detained or suspended following a failed coup in July. Erdoans critics say he is using the coup as a pretext to crush the opposition. Ankara says the crackdown is necessary to root out terrorists.
Authorities ordered the formal arrest of nine executives and journalists from the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper, including the editor-in-chief, Murat Sabuncu, and senior staff, broadcaster NTV and other media reported. They had been detained since Monday. In addition, nine HDP officials, including some provincial and district heads, were detained in the south-eastern province of Adana, a party official said.
The HDP, which is Turkeys third largest party, made history last year by becoming the first Kurdish-rooted party to win the 10% of the vote required to enter parliament.
Erdoan and the ruling AK party accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), which for three decades has carried out a violent insurgency in Turkeys mainly Kurdish south-east. The HDP denies direct links, and says it is working for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict.
On Friday, the co-leaders of the HDP, Selahattin Demirta and Figen Yksekda, were jailed pending trial after being held in overnight raids. Ten other HDP lawmakers were also detained. Some were later released.
The arrests heightened concern among western allies about the political direction of Turkey, a Nato member and a buffer between Europe and the conflicts raging in Syria and Iraq.
The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said she was extremely worried by the arrests, and raised her concerns in telephone calls to Turkeys foreign and EU affairs ministers late on Friday. The United States expressed deep concern.
News of the arrests also shook financial markets on Friday, with the lira currency falling to a record low. Hours after the detentions on Friday, a car bomb killed 10 people and wounded more than 100 near a police station in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakr. Islamic State claimed responsibility.