UPDATE: 8:02 a.m. EST — According to local media, police officials outside the Zaman headquarters have fired teargas shells and violently dispersed protesters. Several injuries have been reported.

UPDATE: 7:44 a.m. EST — On Saturday, Abdulhamit Bilici, editor-in-chief of Zaman, was fired by the trustees appointed by a court Friday, according to tweets by the newspaper’s employees on Zaman’s official twitter page. Tweets by reporters also showed that internet connectivity was being removed at the Zaman building and claimed that the trustees had begun removing the newspaper’s web content.

Original story: 

Turkish authorities seized the headquarters of Zaman, Turkey's largest-circulation newspaper, Friday after a court placed it under the management of trustees. The move marked the latest crackdown on the freedom of press under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which has taken increasingly harsh measures in recent years to muzzle critics.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a crowd of supporters who had collected by late Friday night, and also setup barricades to keep out Zaman readers arriving at the building in a show of support Saturday.

The English-language Today's Zaman Saturday edition, published before the forced take-over, printed its entire front page in black with the headline: "Shameful day for free press in Turkey."  On Saturday, employees of Zaman were allowed to enter the building after an ID check by the police standing watch at the front.

Friday’s move followed the arrests and trials of two journalists from the pro-opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper in November. Currently facing potential life sentences, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were slapped with charges of endangering state security for publishing material that claimed Turkish intelligence officials were selling arms to Syria.

"It has been a habit for the last three, four years, that anyone who is speaking against government policies is facing either court cases or prison, or such control by the government," said Abdulhamit Bilici, editor-in-chief of Zaman. The daily is closely associated with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Erdoğan but who is now a bitter enemy. Erdoğan has accused Gülen of conspiring to overthrow the government by building a network of support in the judiciary, police and media — a charge that Gülen has denied.

Robert Pearson, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told Al Jazeera the move to take over the newspaper was not unexpected. "Mr Erdogan refers to almost anyone who opposes his rule as a terrorist — college professors, journalists — anyone who basically disagrees with him," Pearson said.