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Leading Turkish newspaper editor resigns ahead of election

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The editor of a leading Turkish newspaper has resigned ahead of Sunday's presidential election after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan slammed the news coverage of the paper's owner, the Dogan media group.

Rights groups have frequently expressed concerns about government pressure on the media in Turkey, drawing attention to the widespread firing of editors and reporters.

An opposition MP and media reports linked Friday's departure of Enis Berberoglu from the mainstream Hurriyet daily to such pressure, but the paper dismissed the allegations as "political scenarios" and said he left of his own accord.

"Enis Berberoglu deliberately decided to announce his decision before the presidential election so that no political meaning was attributed to it," its statement said.

Berberoglu himself has not commented publicly.

Erdogan is poised to become Turkey's first popularly elected president in Sunday's election, but his tightening grip on power has polarized the nation and raised fears of creeping authoritarianism. [ID:nL6N0QE1GZ]

Erdogan, who has long been at odds with the Dogan group, rejects allegations of growing restrictions on media freedom, saying his government has boosted press freedom since it first came to power 12 years ago.

He sharply criticized the Dogan group in an election rally on Thursday, accusing it of airing anti-Muslim comments on one of its television channels and of pro-Israeli bias in its coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Alison Williams)