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Turkish Delegation’s Driver Beaten in Iran, Milliyet Reports

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Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A driver with the Turkish delegation accompanying President Abdullah Gul to Iran this week was beaten after being caught up in a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations, Milliyet newspaper reported.

The police who beat the driver later apologized, saying they were admirers of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, columnist Taha Akyol, who accompanied Gul on the visit, wrote in the newspaper. Journalists on the trip were unable to communicate by phone or text message, or to access websites such as Facebook and Twitter, he wrote.

The Iranian government is making the Feb. 14 rally look smaller than it was, Akyol wrote, saying that the protesters he saw were more than “a couple thousand people, it was a mass.” Police, revolutionary guards and soldiers treated the demonstrators “very roughly” as they broke up gatherings of more than three people, blocked roads and closed shops, he said.

Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struggled to overcome the communications blackout, and were forced to send urgent cables by telegraph from the Turkish Embassy in Tehran, Turkey’s TGRT Television reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Benjamin Harvey in Ankara bharvey11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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