Turkish court orders closure of pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem

A journalist of pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem gives an interview to a German TV channel at their newsroom before a protest against the arrest of three prominent campaigners for press freedom, in front of the pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem newspaper in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ANKARA (Reuters) - A Turkish court ordered the closure of a leftist pro-Kurdish newspaper on Tuesday for spreading terrorist propaganda, saying it had acted as the “de facto news outlet” of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, a court document showed.

Ozgur Gundem, whose print version has a daily circulation of around 7,500, focuses on the conflict with Kurdish militants in Turkey’s southeast and has faced dozens of investigations, fines and the arrest of correspondents since 2014.

The newspaper had been used to “make propaganda for the PKK and act as its de facto news outlet”, according to the court document seen by Reuters.

Ozgur Gundem has in the past featured the writing of Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK’s jailed leader, and has published columns by senior rebel commanders.

Turkey has closed more than 130 media outlets since a state of emergency was declared in the wake of last month’s failed military coup, stirring concern among Western allies and rights groups about deteriorating press freedom.

A Turkish official said the closure of Ozgur Gundem was the result of a court order and was not related to the state of emergency. The defendants could appeal, the official said.

Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall