The Turkish government is under increasing pressure as a Kurdish separatist movement gains strength. The government is responding by cracking down on independent voices of political opponents, the press and academia.
The correspondent for the widely read German news magazine Der Spiegel was forced to leave the country on Wednesday after officials refused to renew his press credentials.
Journalist Hasnain Kazim, 41, and his family were escorted to the airport by German diplomats fearful that Turkish authorities might block him from leaving the country.
"I have no choice but to leave this country. I was not allowed to continue reporting," said Kazim, who was denied press accreditation for the past three months after reporting from Istanbul for two and a half years.
"Turkey never named the reason for this," he said. "It is likely to do with those in power being unhappy with Spiegel coverage."
Spiegel Online editor-in-chief Florian Harms slammed the Turkish government's action as a flagrant assault on press freedom.
"This conduct towards our correspondent and thus against Spiegel and Spiegel Online is not tolerable in our view and violates the freedom of the press," Harms said in a statement.
Doing what good journalists do
Harms praised Kazim's work, saying he had "reported in an outstanding manner in recent years on political and social events in Turkey."
"In many reports he highlighted government shortcomings and mistakes in a fair but critical way - as every good journalist does," Harms said. "The conduct of the Turkish authorities leaves us in no doubt that our correspondent is no longer desired there due to his journalistic coverage."
Kazim's departure comes on the same day EU leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss a controversial EU deal with Turkey that aims to limit the massive flow of migrants into Europe.
Kazim was forced to leave the country temporarily last spring when his coverage of a mining disaster, and the government's response to it, provoked widespread outrage. He received more than 10,000 threats via email and social media, including hundreds of death threats.
The Spiegel correspondent may be the first German reporter kicked out of Turkey but he, apparently, won't be the last. The Turkish government is refusing to renew press credentials for eight out of 20 German correspondents in the country.
The issue is becoming a bone of contention between Berlin and Ankara.
Turkey is facing growing internal strife, fed by Kurdish separatists who are waging an increasingly deadly campaign against the government, including Sunday's terror attack in Ankara that killed 37.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is deploying increasingly authoritarian rhetoric in his push to equate free speech with terrorism.
"The fact," he said, "that they are members of parliament, academics, writers, journalists, NGO executives does not change the fact that they are terrorists."
bik/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)