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Top Turkish daily fires commentator over anti-Erdogan tweet

AFP , Thursday 23 Jul 2015
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: Reuters)
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A leading Turkish daily has fired one of its most senior commentators after he sent a tweet bitterly critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's policy on Islamic State (IS) jihadists, reports said Thursday.

The Milliyet daily said that commentator Kadri Gursel's employment had been terminated as the tweet was not in line with its editorial policies.

From his Twitter account @KadriGursel, the journalist accused Erdogan of being the main factor behind the rise of IS and said it was shameful that world leaders were addressing to him condolences for a suicide bombing in the town of Suruc blamed on the jihadists.

"It's embarrassing that foreign leaders call the person who is the number one cause of the IS terror in Turkey to present their condolences for Suruc," he said in a Turkish-language tweet that has been retweeted 3,000 times.

Milliyet said in a statement quoted by Turkish media that Gursel's employment had been terminated with immediate effect.

"The comments by our writer Mr Kadri Gursel are incompatible with the understanding and responsibility of the ethics of our group of journalists," it said in a statement.

"Due to this attitude that destroys our working environment, our paths have separated as of July 22," it added.

Thirty-two people were killed in Monday's suicide bombing in Suruc on the Syrian border which the government blamed on IS militants.

Turkey has been repeatedly accused of colluding in the past with IS extremists in the hope they might prove useful in its aim of knocking out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ankara has always vehemently denied the claims.

There has been growing concern about deteriorating press freedoms on Turkey and in particular over the numbers of journalists facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting Erdogan.

Erdogan caused outrage in the run-up to June 7 elections by saying Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar would "pay a heavy price" over a front-page story which it said proved Turkey had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.

Gursel is one of Milliyet's most senior writers. He started working for the paper in the late 1990s and was first given a column in 2007.

Milliyet is a mainstream daily respected for its reporting but is generally careful about overtly criticising Erdogan.

It is owned by the Demiroren Group, one of Turkey's largest conglomerates with interests in energy, construction and media. Its chief Erdogan Demiroren is widely seen as close to the president.

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