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Turkish journalist detained over corruption case tweet

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained a prominent female journalist and anchorwoman Tuesday after she criticised on Twitter the dropping of a hotly-disputed corruption probe that ensnared key allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The arrest of Sedef Kabas came amid growing concerns about freedom of speech in Turkey under Erdogan following raids earlier this month on opposition media linked to the president’s top foe, exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

“Do not forget the name of the prosecutor who dismissed the December 17 case,” Kabas wrote on Twitter last month, including the name and the picture of the prosecutor.

She was referring to the corruption probe launched in December last year that rocked Erdogan’s government and is blamed by the authorities on Gulen and his followers in the police and the judiciary.

Prosecutors in October dropped the case against 53 people, including sons of former ministers, due to “lack of evidence”.

Police detained Kabas after raiding her home in an upscale neighbourhood on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkish television said.

They took away her laptop, iPad and cellphone, Radikal newspaper reported.

Kabas was detained on charges of “targeting people who are involved in anti-terror operations” after the prosecutors who dismissed the corruption case filed a criminal complaint against her.

Speaking to Radikal following her detention, Kabas said: “I believe in law. I think that there are also people who still believe in law.”

The move came as Turkey’s top judicial body said it had dismissed the four prosecutors who originally oversaw the massive corruption investigation.

Another outspoken journalist, Mehmet Baransu, was also detained on Tuesday for criticising one of Erdogan’s advisors on Twitter. Baransu, who works for the anti-government Taraf newspaper, has been detained three times before.

Erdogan managed to stall the corruption investigation by sacking thousands of police and scores of judges and pushing through laws tightening state control over the judiciary and the Internet including bans of Twitter and YouTube.

The authorities earlier this month launched raids against pro-Gulen media and detained thirty people, in a move sharply criticised by the EU as marking a new erosion of media freedom in Turkey.

But Erdogan last week brushed off accusations and said Turkey has “the freest press in the world” — despite being world’s top jailer of journalists in 2012 and 2013, according to the international Committee to Protect Journalists. -AFP

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