UNITED NATIONS, March 7 (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on Turkey to respect freedom of expression after the country's top-selling newspaper was taken over by the state, noting that critical voices should be permitted to flourish, a U.N. spokesman said.
Turkish authorities seized control of Zaman newspaper on Friday in a widening crackdown against supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, an influential foe of President Tayyip Erdogan. Zaman has been affiliated with Gulen.
"The secretary-general is aware of developments, announced on March 4, regarding court action in relation to the Feza Media Group in Turkey," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. "He is following the situation closely."
He said Ban urged that "freedoms of expression and assembly are respected in any actions taken. ... Vibrant democracy and economic and social development depend on a flourishing of peaceful opinions and voices, even when they are critical."
Zaman plans to continue publishing as an opposition daily in Germany after the state takeover in its home country, the editor-in-chief of Zaman Almanya (Zaman Germany) said on Monday. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Alan Crosby)
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