Turkish police have raided the headquarters of a pro-Kurdish television channel amid Ankara’s crackdown on media outlets following the failed coup of July 15.
Police raided the IMC TV headquarters in Istanbul and stopped its broadcast while it was live on air on Tuesday. Cables were removed from the control room to ensure all broadcasts were cut.
Images showed dozens of staff who crowded the news studio in a final show of defiance, chanting, “Free media will not be silenced.”
The IMC TV management has been charged with broadcasting “terror propaganda” for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The channel, which has a strong pro-Kurdish tilt but broadcasts in Turkish as well, has always denied being linked to any organization.
The management has called the closure a “massive breach of freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” saying such actions have no place in a democracy.
The IMC TV had already been taken off air by Turkey’s largest satellite operator. However, the television broadcaster had remained on air until Tuesday through internet broadcasts and the Hotbird satellite.
The channel was one of several outlets ordered closed last week under Turkey’s controversial state of emergency imposed in the wake of the failed coup.
The order has also affected at least a dozen other television channels, which have been forced to cease their broadcast on charges of links to groups deemed to support terror and threaten Turkey’s national security.
Activists have repeatedly warned that the state of emergency, which has been extended by another three months from October 19, could be used for cracking down on groups or individuals beyond the coup suspects.
The closure has come at a time of growing concern for press freedom in Turkey.
Turkey has put several prominent journalists under arrest following the abortive coup.
Ankara suspends thousands of police officers
In a separate development on Tuesday, Turkey suspended nearly 13,000 police officers from duty over suspected links with US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials accuse of being behind the coup attempt.
Authorities say more than 2,500 of the suspended officers are police chiefs.
Turkey has already sacked or suspended more than 100,000 civil servants, teachers, judges, prosecutors and others over the past few months.