November 5, 2016: A Turkish court ordered the arrest of nine executives and journalists of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper before their trial on Saturday, media reports say, in a case that has sparked international concern about freedom of expression in Turkey.
The nine were placed under arrest after their detention earlier this week. Among them are prominent journalists, including the editor-in-chief, Murat Sabuncu, cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gursel.
They are charged with links to Kurdish militants and the group blamed for the July 15 coup attempt.
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It is the latest in the ongoing political crisis in Turkey that has raised international concern.
On Friday, the United States joined other countries – including France, Germany and the United Kingdom – and the United Nations in expressing concern about Turkey’s arrest of pro-Kurdish politicians and blocking of the Internet.
Following overnight raids, Turkish police detained a dozen parliamentary deputies of the pro-Kurdish HDP (the Peoples’ Democratic Party), the country’s third largest political party. Among those arrested were HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag. The HDP lawmakers were taken into custody after failing to respond to summons by prosecutors asking them to testify in a terrorism propaganda case, according to a statement issued by a government office.
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Hours after the roundup, a car bomb killed nine people and wounded more than 100 others near a police station in the southeastern Turkish city Diyarbakir, where some of the lawmakers were being held.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Kurdish militants were responsible for the bombing, and that one suspected member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was killed in the blast. However, later on Friday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
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Turkey has been under emergency rule since the failed July coup. There has been a widening crackdown on dissent by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who blames the attempted overthrow of his government on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
The government in Ankara has repeatedly called for the United States to extradite Gulen and warns that failure to do so will cause great harm to relations between the two countries. (VOA)