Turkish police forces in Istanbul have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters who had gathered outside the headquarters of the mainstream opposition newspaper Zaman to voice their anger at government’s takeover of the daily. On Friday afternoon, the police forces clashed with demonstrators in a bid to smash their way into the office building and enforce a ruling handed down earlier in the day by the Istanbul Sixth Criminal Court of Peace ordering the management of the newspaper and its editorial board to be replaced by the trustees board assigned by the court. The court decision, which came at the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, provoked angry protests in front of the newspaper's office. The protesters chanted, “Free press cannot be silenced!”, and raised signs that read, “Don't touch my newspaper!” Zaman editor-in-chief Abdülhamit Bilici said the court decision marked a “black day for democracy” and would remain as a black stain in the Turkish history, as he addressed the crowd. The takeover of Zaman comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) intensify the pressure on the Turkish media. Affiliated with the Gülen movement, Zaman is Turkey's largest-circulation newspaper and is also one of the few opposition media outlets operating in the country. The Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is allegedly using its influence in the government to stage a coup against Erdogan's rule. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also denounced the court decision and called it “a violation of law targeting media freedom” which serves the ambitions of Erdogan and his party. The court ruling also provoked international outrage. “I see this as an extremely serious interference with media freedom which should have no place in a democratic society. It is the latest in a string of unacceptable and undue restrictions of media freedom in Turkey,” said Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Moreover, Reporters without Borders issued a statement, accusing Erdogan of “moving from authoritarianism to all-out despotism.” The US State Department spokesman John Kirby also said that Washington urged Turkish authorities to respect freedom of the press. “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,” Kirby told a news briefing.