Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference in Ankara
Istanbul - AFP
Turkish police on Monday raided a liberal news magazine and detained one of its senior editors over a photomontage on its cover portraying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan taking a selfie at a soldier's funeral.
Counter-terrorism police arrived at the Nokta magazine's headquarters in the Okmeydani district of Istanbul after midnight but left after finding the building empty.
Police then returned early Monday, breaking into and searching the offices of Nokta and confiscating items and documents, the magazine's editor-in-chief Cevheri Guven wrote on his Twitter account.
"Police arrived at our doorstep. It's 1:30 am. I think (the copies of) Nokta will be seized," Guven tweeted.
Nokta (Full Stop) said on Twitter that the magazine's managing editor Murat Capan had been detained in a third police raid and was due to appear in court later Monday.
The Hurriyet daily posted a copy of the order from Istanbul prosecutors, ordering the search, seizure of the print run and blocking of its Twitter account for "insulting the president" as well as "disseminating terrorist propaganda".
"Our cover that prompted the police raid may be harsh, disturbing or even cruel," Nokta said on its website, which was blocked shortly after the statement.
"But these are not crimes for a media institution, but merely a form of speech," the magazine added.
Its Twitter account was still accessible Monday, despite the prosecutor's order.
The "raids and arrest worsen already worrying situation re freedom of expression in Turkey," the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks wrote on Twitter.
- 'Criticising Erdogan a crime' -
In the photomontage, Erdogan grins for his photograph as he holds up his smartphone to take a selfie.
Behind him is the coffin of a fallen soldier draped with the Turkish flag carried by soldiers in uniform -- a common sight as Turkey wages an "anti-terror war" against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.
The cover plays on claims -- angrily denied by the government -- that Erdogan is exploiting the deaths of soldiers to create patriotic fervour ahead of November 1 elections.
The president last month outraged opponents over remarks at a funeral in which he said "how happy is his family" that the young soldier had become a "martyr".
Nokta said the mocked-up "selfie" was a reaction to these remarks, saying: "People take selfies when they feel happy. Our cover is ironic and carries a high dose of criticism."
Main opposition Republican Peoples' Party's (CHP) deputy head Engin Altay slammed the raid as "unacceptable," accusing Erdogan of being a "dictator" for stepping up pressure on media critical of the government.
"Dictators become more and more cruel, anxious and intolerant when they start to feel like they are losing power... Criticising Erdogan has become the biggest crime in Turkey," he told reporters.
The magazine said the cover was inspired by a 2013 photomontage showing Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair grinning as he takes a selfie on a mobile phone against the background of a bomb explosion during the Iraq war.
Fiercely anti-government Nokta was established in 1983 but was taken off the press in 2007 over controversial articles about two military coup plots in Turkey in 2004.
It returned to newsstands in May this year with a defiant cover featuring a caricature of Erdogan wearing a soldier helmet and a hand grenade with its pin pulled in his hand.
There has been growing concern about deteriorating press freedoms in Turkey under Erdogan and in particular over the numbers of journalists facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting top officials.
Earlier this month, Turkish police swooped on the Ankara-based offices of a media group critical of Erdogan, after jailing on terror charges two British reporters, who have since been released.
A Dutch journalist based in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey was deported last week after being detained during clashes between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish security forces.