Turkey: 9 opposition newspaper staff formally arrested

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper said Saturday that a court ordered that its chief editor and eight senior staff be jailed pending trial, prompting a call for an emergency meeting by Turkey’s main opposition party.

Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, cartoonist Musa Kart and other staff were detained for questioning earlier this week — some following raids at their homes — for allegedly supporting Kurdish militants as well as a movement led by Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey accuses of masterminding the failed coup in July.

The crackdown on the left-leaning and pro-secular newspaper prompted criticism from opposition groups, with the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, calling an emergency meeting for the evening.

CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu told reporters the arrests were “unacceptable” and dismissed government claims that the judiciary was acting independently.

“The judiciary ruled upon orders of the political authority,” he said, adding that such practices were seen in dictatorships, not democracies.

The detentions came amid a widening government crackdown on opposition voices. On Friday, authorities arrested the two co-chairs of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party and several other party lawmakers for alleged ties to Kurdish militants.

The government-run Anadolou Agency said Saturday that Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party or HDP, was among the 12 party legislators detained overnight for refusal to testify on terror-related charges.

Demirtas, fellow co-chair Figen Yuksekdag and seven other lawmakers were formally put under arrest pending trial. The courts released three others on condition they report regularly to authorities.

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