Zaman newspaper, a mass-circulation opposition media outlet which has been taken over by the government, reopened Saturday under heavy police guard and with the editor-in-chief removed from his post.

Staff took to social media to post photos of armed special forces inside the building and also guarding the barricaded perimeter after police raided the offices. Abdulhamit Bilici, the editor, left the building to the applause of staff.

Police used tear gas and water cannons and forced their way into the newspaper's offices on Friday night. They detained and handcuffed a German journalist covering the event, but he was released after several hours.

Fresh rounds of tear gas were fired Saturday at supporters who were demonstrating outside the building, decrying what they see as a crackdown on press freedoms in a country were civil rights are under pressure and critics of the government are facing blowback.

Staff members were calling the Saturday morning paper the "last edition," before the government-appointed leadership took over. The front page was black with the words "The Constitution is Suspended."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sharply critical of the Constitutional Court this week, saying he would neither "obey nor respect" a ruling which ordered the release of two jailed opposition journalists from a leftist newspaper. The reporters still face terrorism charges.

"We see this as the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said after the raids on the newspaper.

Kirby called on the NATO-member state to "uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in their own constitution, including freedom of speech and especially freedom of the press."

The Turkish edition of the newspaper, Zaman said, had a daily circulation of 850,000 print copies, making it the largest opposition paper in the country.

Zaman, which also has an English-language paper, is seen as being affiliated with the movement of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher based in the US.

Gulen was a one-time ally of Erdogan but the two fell out in recent years and the government has pushed the line that the preacher's movement, known as Hizmet (Service), is a terrorist group.

He is accused of running a "parallel" state within the civil service and trying to overthrow the government.

Staff at the paper said the government's charges appeared focused on the relationship with Gulen and allegations of collaboration with the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In the past, one reporter noted, the Gulenists were accused of being anti-Kurdish.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported a court had ordered a state-appointed trusteeship to take over Zaman, though no reason was given in the report.

Zaman is the latest media outlet to face the strong arm of the government, after authorities took over other critical media outlets, including newspaper and television stations allegedly affiliated with Gulen. Leftist media houses are also facing restrictions.

Amnesty International and press freedom groups were sharply critical of the takeover of Zaman. Human Rights Watch said this is the "latest attempt by Turkey's president and government to silence critical media."

In addition to the crackdown on media, there have also been moves to silence people accused of "insulting" Erodogan. The Justice Ministry this week confirmed some 1,850 criminal investigations have been opened into citizens who were critical of the president.

Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, insists Turkey has the freest media in the world.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.