Turkish police briefly detain Russia's Sputnik Turkiye editor-in-chief

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Turkish police on Sunday detained the editor-in-chief of Russia's Sputnik Turkiye news agency in Istanbul, the global head of the state-run agency said, but he was released after a phone call between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Mahir Boztepe was detained and police searched the offices of his news agency, according to a post on Twitter by Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya, RT and Sputnik.

"Turkey, what is this?" Simonyan wrote.

Relations between Russia and Turkey have soured after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib province in a strike by Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russian air power.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu later on Sunday and called for the situation with the Sputnik journalist to be resolved quickly.

Boztepe's detention came a day after a crowd of people chanted slogans outside the homes of three Sputnik journalists in Ankara, one of the journalist's relatives said.

"What appears to have been a coordinated attack came at a time of heightened tensions in Idlib between Syria and Turkey," Sputnik said on its website.

The Journalists' Union of Turkey said the intimidation of reporters and their detention were unacceptable.

"Journalists cannot be made to pay for the tension between states," the union said on Twitter.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian government forces alone. The two are expected to meet for talks in Moscow this week.

Both Russian state news agencies RIA and TASS reported that retaliation measures against Turkish media would follow soon, citing an unnamed Russian diplomatic source.


(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul; Editing by Ros Russell)