EU criticizes Turkey for mass arrest of media representatives

Top European Union officials have sharply criticised a mass arrest of media representatives in Turkey.

Foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and the commissioner heading EU enlargement talks said the arrests went “against European values”.

At least 24 people were arrested in police raids on a leading newspaper and TV station said to have close links with a US-based cleric, according to BBC.

Those detained are accused of trying to seize control of the state.

The Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV channel are described as close to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement.

A former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Gulen – who lives in self-imposed exile – is accused of running a “parallel state” within Turkey.

In a statement, Ms Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said any move towards EU membership depended on “full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights”.

The raids and arrests “are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy,” the pair said in a statement.

“We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation.”

The raids come days after Mr Erdogan pledged a fresh campaign against Mr Gulen’s supporters.

Journalists, producers, scriptwriters and an eastern Turkey police chief were all arrested, among them the editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper and the chairman of Samanyolu TV.

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