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Northern Cypriot police summon journalists for testimony over criticizing Afrin offensive

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Şener Levent, the editor-in-chief of a daily based in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), and a reporter for the same publication have been summoned by local police to testify in a case filed in Ankara against them over a headline criticizing Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin, northern Syria, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Tuesday.

“It is a first for northern Cypriots to be summoned to testify for a case in another country,” Levent told Gazete Duvar.

Levent and the reporter refused to give testimony to the police, saying they in the first place rejected the case against them.

In January the Afrika daily published a headline calling the Afrin offensive “Turkey’s second invasion move,” comparing the Turkish Army’s operations in northern Syria to Turkey’s capturing of northern Cyprus in the late 1970s.

In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly slammed the newspaper for engaging in “indecent” publishing. Following Erdoğan’s remarks, a group of people physically attacked the newspaper headquarters in Lefkoşa.

Levent criticized northern Cypriot police for acting as the “mediator” in Turkey’s pressure against journalists in the KKTC, recalling that his country has no law to extradite its citizens to another country for criminal cases.

“There is no need for us to say ‘invader’ because only an invader could do this. Only in Cyprus. Because here is also under invasion,” Levent said.

There is also a criminal case in the KKTC against the Afrika daily over the Afrin story, for which Levent will appear in court on Sept. 20.

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