The Turkish government has cracked down on independent media since an attempted coup on July 15, shutting down at least 45 newspapers and 16 TV stations, The Associated Press reports.
On Wednesday, the state-run news service Anadolu Agency reported 47 arrest warrants had been issued for employees of the newspaper Zaman, and 13 people had been detained.
Zaman and a sister publication were raided by police in March for their supposed connection to the Hizmet religious movement led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly blamed Gulen for fomenting the military coup against him on July 15.
Other media outlets with suspected ties to Gulen have also been targeted. Earlier this week, the government issued an additional 42 arrest warrants for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Committee wrote on its website: “Many of the journalists on the reported [warrant] list … worked for media outlets which [are] already taken over by pro-government trustees for their ties to the Hizmet movement.”
Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe, issued a statement condemning the media crackdown:
“By rounding up journalists the government is failing to make a distinction between criminal acts and legitimate criticism. Rather than stifling press freedom and intimidating journalists into silence it is vital that Turkish authorities allow the media to do their work and end this draconian clampdown on freedom of expression.”
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. sees “a troubling trend in Turkey where official bodies, law enforcement and judicial, are being used to discourage legitimate political discourse,” reports Reuters.