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White House says Turkey’s takeover of Zaman daily is ’troubling’

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The White House said the takeover of Zaman newspaper by Turkish authorities is the latest in a series of “troubling” actions, urging the Turkish government to uphold media freedom.

An İstanbul court ruled to appoint trustees over the Zaman daily, the country’s best-selling newspaper. Riot police stormed the newspaper late on Friday, forcing out reporters and beating some.

“This is the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” White House said in a statement on Friday.

Two days before parliamentary elections last November, Turkish courts also appointed trustees to Koza İpek Media Holding, effectively seizing two newspapers, two TV channels and a radio channel. The trustees bankrupted the papers and shut them down this week.

White House said in the wake of moves by government appointed trustees to shutter media outlets owned by the Koza İpek Holding and the filing of insult charges against journalists representing other outlets, “we call on the Turkish government to ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under law.”

It urged Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in Turkey’s constitution, including freedom of speech, assembly, and the press.

“In a democratic society, critical opinions should be encouraged, not silenced,” White House highlighted.

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