Reuters International

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has excluded a senior journalist of Russian state news agency Sputnik from the country, a government spokesman said, in a reflection of growing friction between Ankara and Moscow fuelled by war in Syria.

Sputnik's Turkish editor-in-chief Mahir Boztepe told Reuters that Tural Kerimov had been denied entry at Istanbul airport overnight and his press card and residence permit confiscated. Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus gave security concerns for the move, but gave no details.

The exclusion comes a day after officials at Istanbul airport detained and denied entry to a German public television journalist who planned to interview refugees at the Turkey-Syria border.

NATO member Turkey is hosting 2.5 million refugees from conflict across its border in Syria and is fighting a campaign against Kurdish insurgents in its southeastern territories.

Last week Turkish authorities blocked access to Sputnik's web site in Turkey after President Vladimir Putin made comments critical of Ankara's leadership. The site remains blocked.

Russian's foreign ministry has called the blocking unlawful and a grave violation of human rights. Ties between Moscow and Ankara have been strained since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last November.

The European Union, United States and rights groups have criticised Tayyip Erdogan for what they say is Ankara's attempts to bridle the press and curb criticism of the President.

(Reporting by Can Sezer; Additional reporting by Seda Sezer; Writing by David Dolan)

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 Reuters International