Brawls erupt as Turkish police storm media group linked to Erdogan foe

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Brawls erupt as Turkish police storm media group linked to Erdogan foe
Police detain a protester as they confront protesters near the headquarters of a media company with alleged linked to a government critic, where police enforced a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul carried out the dawn raid at the building, using tear gas and water canons during confrontations with protesters, Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of the Nov. 1 election. (Usame Ari / Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
Riot police use a water cannon as they confront protesters near the headquarters of a media company with alleged linked to a government critic, where police enforced a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul carried out the dawn raid at the building, using tear gas and water canons during confrontations with protesters, Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of the Nov. 1 election. (Usame Ari / Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
A protester holding a placard demonstrates across the street from the headquarters of a media company in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid at the building, using tear gas to enter the building of the company that owns opposition television stations Bugun TV and Kanal Turk, the Bugun and Millet newspapers and other business interests. Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Riot police use water cannons as they confront protesters outside the headquarters of a media company linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Wednesday Oct. 28, 2015. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding media company to be placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/Mehmet Ali Poyraz, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
Riot police bloc protesters as they surround the headquarters of a media company linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2015. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding media company to be placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization.(AP Photo/Mehmet Ali Poyraz, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
A national flag is brandished by protesters demonstrating across the street from the headquarters of a media company with alleged linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul carried out the dawn raid at the building, using tear gas during confrontations with protesters, Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of the Nov. 1 election. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Protesters holding placards and waving Turkish flags demonstrate across the street from the headquarters of a media company in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid at the building, using tear gas to enter the building of the company that owns opposition television stations Bugun TV and Kanal Turk, the Bugun and Millet newspapers and other business interests. Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Riot police stand inside the headquarters of a media company allegedly linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Wednesday Oct. 28, 2015. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding media company to be placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization.(AP Photo/Mehmet Ali Poyraz, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
Police detain a youth as they surrounded the headquarters of opposition television stations and newspapers in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2017. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid at the building, using tear gas to enter the building of the company that owns opposition television stations Bugun TV and Kanal Turk, the Bugun and Millet newspapers and other business interests. Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1, 2015.(AP Photo/Mehmet Ali Poyraz, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
Protesters waving Turkish flags demonstrate across the street from the headquarters of a media company in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid at the building, using tear gas to enter the building of the company that owns opposition television stations Bugun TV and Kanal Turk, the Bugun and Millet newspapers and other business interests. Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Riot police force a gate to enter the headquarters of opposition television stations and newspapers in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2017. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid, using tear gas to enter the headquarters of a media company linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization.(AP Photo/Usame Ari, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
Riot police detain a protester as they confront protesters near the headquarters of a media company with alleged linked to a government critic, where police enforced a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2015. Police in Istanbul carried out the dawn raid at the building, using tear gas and water canons during confrontations with protesters, Critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of the Nov. 1 election. (Burak Can / Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
Police spray teargas to disperse protesters as the police enter the headquarters of a media company allegedly linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business, in Istanbul, Wednesday Oct. 28, 2015. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding media company to be placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization.(Burak Can / Cihan News Agency via AP) TURKEY OUT
Riot police, left, force their way through a gate to enter the headquarters of opposition television stations and newspapers in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2017. Police in Istanbul have carried out a dawn raid, using tear gas to enter the headquarters of a media company linked to a government critic, enforcing a court order to seize the business. A prosecutor has ordered Koza-Ipek Holding placed under the management of a trustee while its ties to the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, are investigated. The government accuses the movement of trying to destabilize the state and prosecutors have labeled it a terrorist organization.(AP Photo/Usame Ari, Cihan News Agency) TURKEY OUT
Riot police stand at the entrance as other police officers control some hundreds of protesters outside the headquarters of Koza-Ipek Holding, a business group that owns opposition television stations and newspapers in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2017. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of attempts to destabilize it, and critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1.(AP Photo)
Police officers control hundreds of protesters outside the headquarters of Koza-Ipek Holding, a business group that owns opposition television stations and newspapers in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2017. The government accuses the movement led by Fethullah Gulen of attempts to destabilize it, and critics denounced the action as a government crackdown on opposition voices ahead of an election Nov. 1.(AP Photo)
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ISTANBUL, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Turkish police on Wednesday stormed the offices of an opposition media company, days before an election, in a crackdown on companies linked to a U.S.-based cleric and foe of President Tayyip Erdogan, live footage showed.

Brawls broke out and police sprayed water cannon to disperse dozens of people in front of the offices of Kanalturk and Bugun TV in Istanbul, a live broadcast on Bugun's website showed.

The media groups are owned by Koza Ipek Holding, which has links to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. The authorities on Tuesday took over 22 companies owned by Koza Ipek in an investigation of alleged financial irregularities, including whether it funded Gulen. The company denies wrongdoing.

Erdogan has clamped down on commercial interests belonging to once-influential followers of Gulen, his former ally, after police and prosecutors considered sympathetic to the cleric opened a corruption investigation of Erdogan's inner circle in 2013.

Legal action against more opposition newspapers, including the nationalist Sozcu newspaper, is planned for after the vote, said Aydin Unal, a lawmaker in the ruling AK Party.

"After Nov. 1, we will hold them accountable. Sozcu newspaper insults us every day," Unal, a former Erdogan adviser, told A Haber channel on Tuesday. "There is a lot of pressure on Turkey. If we say something, the world accuses us of interfering with the press, so we're not in a comfortable position now, but after Nov. 1 we will settle up with all of them."

Rights groups questioned the move against opposition media outlets so close to an election.

"The government's seizure of Koza Ipek undermines the fairness of the Nov. 1 parliamentary elections," Robert Herman of Freedom House said in an e-mailed statement, calling the takeovers of the media firms "censorship."

A prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence of up to 34 years for Gulen, 74, on allegations that he ran a "parallel" structure within state institutions that sought to topple Erdogan, who has led Turkey, first as prime minister, then president, since 2003.

Gullen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999.

A handful of prominent journalists who worked at Gulen-affiliated newspapers and TV stations are in pre-trial detention on similar charges.

(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley, Humeyra Pamuk and Melih Aslan; Editing by David Dolan and Nick Tattersall, Larry King)

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