ANKARA (Reuters) – Editors of a left-leaning Turkish news magazine were charged on Tuesday with attempting to topple the government over a cover suggesting Sunday’s election strengthening President Tayyip Erdogan could lead to a “civil war”, the journal said.
Nokta’s latest edition carried the cover headline “the beginning of civil war” after the ruling AK Party founded by Erdogan regained the parliamentary majority it had lost in a June poll.
“Senior editors Cevheri Guven and Murat Capan have been sent to jail pending trial over charges of ‘staging a coup attempt’ and ‘attempting to overthrow the government’,” Nokta said on its Twitter account.
The Istanbul court was not immediately available for comment.
The AK Party, in power since 2002, won around a half of the votes in Sunday’s election and Erdogan remains unrivalled as a political leader in Turkey. But secularist and liberal Turks have been alarmed by what they see as his drift to authoritarian rule and his increasing recourse to religious references.
Rights groups and opponents have accused Erdogan and the government of trying to silence opposition media. Authorities seized two opposition newspapers and took two TV channels off air in the days ahead of the election in what they said was a crackdown on one of Erdogan’s arch enemies.
Journalists accused of involvement in coup conspiracies against Erdogan have in the past been held in custody for months or even years awaiting trial.
Turkey, which aspires to membership of the European Union, ranks towards the bottom of global press freedom rankings. Erdogan’s opponents fear Sunday’s election result, which could pave the way for him to assume greater presidential powers, could encourage increasingly authoritarian rule.