December 29, 2016 / 8:36 AM / 8 months ago

Prominent Turkish journalist says detained over tweet

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Prominent Turkish journalist Ahmet Sik on Thursday said he was being detained by authorities over a Twitter statement he made while an opposition lawmaker who spoke to him said the reporter was being accused of terrorist propaganda.

At least 81 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), with more than 130 media outlets shut since a failed coup attempt in July. Journalists and writers are largely facing charges of terrorist propaganda.

"I am being detained," Sik said on Twitter. "I am going to be taken to the prosecutor's office over a tweet."

Baris Yarkadas, a lawmaker for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said on Twitter Sik had told him he was being accused of terror propaganda.

Turkish prosecutors could not be reached for comment but the state-run news agency Anadolu said Sik was also being accused of insulting the Turkish state, its judiciary, military and police through several Twitter posts and his work on the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The scale of the media crackdown since July has alarmed Turkey's Western allies and foreign investors. Human rights groups and opposition parties say President Tayyip Erdogan, who traces his political roots to a banned Islamist party, is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle all dissent in the nation.

Ankara blames the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, for orchestrating the failed coup, when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets and more than 240 people were killed. Gulen, who lives in the United States, denies involvement.

Officials say the media crackdown is justified by the threat to democracy posed by Gulen's followers.

Sik has long been critical of Gulen. In 2011 he was jailed for a year over a book on the cleric's life, as part of a series of court cases that led to the imprisonment of hundreds of soldiers and journalists who said they were targeted by the Gulenist judiciary. The convictions were later overturned and cases were thrown out.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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