Turkish police use post-coup powers to shut down TV station

Turkish police officers raid the studio of IMC TV in Istanbul Friday.

Story highlights

  • The station was one of 20 ordered shut by emergency decree last week
  • Turkey has suspended about 18% of the national police force for alleged Gulenist links

Istanbul (CNN)Dramatic scenes unfolded Tuesday as Turkish police raided a television news station that had been ordered off the air by emergency decree.

The raid on Istanbul-based IMC TV, an opposition-affiliated, pro-Kurdish channel, came as the station was reporting on the government's closure of another television channel.
    Turkish authorities cut IMC's transmission in the middle of the broadcast.
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    "Free media will not be silenced," IMC staff chanted as authorities entered the control room, ordering journalists to stop broadcasting scenes from the raid on their social media accounts.
    IMC is one of the largest of the 20 television and radio stations ordered off air by Turkish authorities on Friday on the grounds that they broadcast "terrorist propaganda."
    The networks were predominantly those affiliated with the country's Kurdish and Alevi minorities.
    IMC, a Turkish-language station, has previously broadcast reports on the conduct of Turkish security forces in their operations against the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
    Turkey has been locked in a low-level conflict with the banned Kurdish separatist group for decades, and over the past year has weathered a string of bombings blamed on the group.
    Employees of IMC TV react to the police raid.

    Emergency decrees

    Turkey declared a state of emergency in the wake of a failed coup on July 15, and has since pursued a sweeping purge, dismissing more than 81,000 people in various institutions -- including the armed forces, the police, the education system, the media and the judiciary -- who were perceived as opposed to the government.
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    "We weren't only broadcasting about the Kurdish issue, we were a platform for all different voices," said journalist Banu Guven, a presenter on IMC.
    She accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using the failed coup as a pretext to crack down on groups he opposed.
    "The decrees and the state of emergency became an excuse for Erdogan to silence us," Guven said.
    On Monday, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the current state of emergency -- which allows the government to rule by decrees without seeking parliamentary approval -- would be extended for three more months.

    18% of police force suspended

    Nearly three months after the coup attempt, more than 12,000 police officers have been suspended for alleged links to the man Ankara accuses of masterminding the coup, Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Tuesday.
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    Of the 12,801 suspended police officers, 2,523 of them are ranking officers, Anadolu reports.
    Gulen, a reclusive cleric with a loyal following of supporters in Turkey and around the world, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. He has repeatedly denied any involvement in the July 15 uprising, which left 270 people dead, including 24 accused in the plot.
    Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.
    Alleged Gulenists were among 28 mayors dismissed by Turkey's government last month, in a move that sparked protests in a number of towns.
    Other dismissed mayors included those with alleged links to the banned PKK.
    Turkey has shut down more than 2,000 institutions linked to Gulen, whose movement has founded hundreds of secular co-ed schools, free tutoring centers, hospitals and relief agencies.