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Turkey seizes draft copies of journalist's book

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The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 2:04 PM

ANKARA, Turkey -- A Turkish court on Thursday issued an order for all draft copies of a jailed journalist's yet unpublished book to be confiscated, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported, fueling censorship concerns.

The court ordered police to seize all draft documents and copies of investigative journalist Ahmet Sik's book, which reportedly focuses on the influence of an Islamic group within the police force.

Sik was jailed earlier this month - along with six other journalists - accused of links to an alleged hardline secularist plot to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in 2003. Their arrests drew expressions of concern from Western governments and international media rights groups.

Some 400 people, including other journalists, politicians and military officers, are already on trial, accused of membership in an alleged terror network, called Ergenekon, which prosecutors say conspired to provoke public unrest and trigger a coup to bring down the government.

Critics say the government is using the case to round up government opponents, an accusation Erdogan rejects. The government has backed the investigation, saying it is strengthening democracy.

Police raided and searched the premises of an Istanbul publishing house late on Wednesday and on Thursday. Ahmet Oz, an editor at the publishing house told reporters police had destroyed an electronic copy of the draft from a computer.

Police also seized a copy from Sik's colleague and friend, Ertugrul Mavioglu, the journalist said. Sik had sent him a copy to read, seeking his opinions.

The confiscation order comes weeks after a prosecutor investigating the case insisted none of the journalists were detained for any of their writings and said he had evidence on the journalists which he was unable to disclose.

Sik's lawyer had said the journalist planned to name the book "The Army of the Imam," after influential Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen, who is believed to have millions of followers in Turkey.

The journalist suggested that his detention was linked to his book, shouting "anyone who touches (Gulen) burns" as he was being taken away by police on March 3.

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