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Turkey's Erdogan accuses international media of spying, fueling unrest

'[CNN] doesn't care about a free, impartial and independent press. They are assigned to work like spies,' Erdogan said, singling out the news outlet.

Erdogan international media stir chaosEnlarge
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara on June 3, 2014. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey's embattled prime minister lashed out at international media on Tuesday, accusing news outlets of stirring unrest during the one-year anniversary of mass anti-government protests.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan singled out CNN International, whose reporter was arrested live on air last Saturday while covering street clashes, accusing the network of spying.

"International media organisations who came to Istanbul for provocative and exaggerated broadcasts were left empty-handed," Erdogan told members of his ruling AKP party in an apparent reference to the incident.

On Saturday, police violently dispersed demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara as they marked a year since the start of nationwide protests denouncing Erdogan's authoritarian rule.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters on Istanbul's side streets to prevent them reaching the city's iconic Taksim Square, the epicenter of last year's uprising.

Injured protesters lie on the ground as Turkish riot police officers fire tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul, on May 31, 2014.

News outlets were also targeted, with Turkish police briefly detaining a CNN team in the middle of a live broadcast from the square.

"Turkish police released CNN team after half an hour. Officer apologized for another officer who kneed me while I was being detained," CNN's Ivan Watson said on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Erdogan called Watson a "lackey" who had been "caught red-handed" trying to bring chaos to Turkey.

"[CNN] doesn't care about a free, impartial and independent press. They are assigned to work like spies," Erdogan said.

Last year's wave of protests was sparked by government plans to uproot trees at Istanbul's central Gezi Park and erect a shopping mall on the site.

At least eight people were killed and thousands were left injured during three weeks of unrest that followed.

Erdogan has branded demonstrators "extremists" and "looters" and accuses them of seeking to derail his government's economic achievements over the last decade.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/turkey/140603/turkeys-erdogan-lashes-out-at-international-media