Turkish authorities have stepped up the pressure on media outlets sympathetic to Fethullah Gulen by seizing control of the Cihan news agency days after taking over the country's biggest newspaper Zaman. An Istanbul court ordered administrators to replace management at the agency, apparently caving in to a request by prosecutors investigating the influential cleric, regarded as a thorn in the side of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Judges said the three-person trustee panel that will run the agency is the same as that appointed to overhaul Zaman newspaper on 4 March. Both Zaman, Turkey's largest circulation daily, and Cihan news agency are part of the Feza media group, both of which is linked to Gulen.
The Muslim cleric, a former ally of Erdogan, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since falling out with the Erdogan and is accused of running a parallel state aiming to topple the government. Erdogan claimed that Gulen's Hizmet (service) movement was behind a wide-reaching corruption scandal that shook the government in 2013.
The group has since been branded a terrorist organisation and many of its members purged from public offices or indicted. Hizmet is based on a wide network of schools from which graduates have gone on to hold influential posts within Turkey's security forces, judiciary and business elite. The Zaman takeover has drawn international condemnation, raising concerns about press freedom in Turkey.