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Bureau chief of Russia's Sputnik barred from returning to Turkey

ANKARA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The bureau chief of Russia's Sputnik news service was prevented from returning to Turkey on Wednesday, Turkish media and Sputnik reported.

Tural Kerimov, editor-in-chief of Sputnik's Turkey bureau, was denied entry at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, Turkey's private Dogan News Agency reported.

Sputnik, in a disptach from Moscow, said Kerimov was told by a border control officer that he had been flagged as persona non grata by the Turkish authorities.

The Russian news agency reported later that Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the decision to bar Kerimov from entering Turkey was made by the country's security organs.

"(Kerimov) is currently not in Turkey," Kurtulmus was quoted as saying.

The incident came after Turkey blocked access to the website of Sputnik on Friday.

Turkey's Presidency of Telecommunication and communication said the move was made on "legal consideration" of a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts, Dogan said.

Relations between Ankara and Moscow have been tense since Turkish air force shot down a Russian fighter jet last November. Ankara said the Russian plane violated Turkish airspace, whereas Moscow insisted the Su-24 had stayed over Syria during its flight.

One of the two pilots of the downed aircraft was killed by rebels after ejecting over Syrian territory.

Russia has been demanding, for the normalization of ties, an apology, compensation for damages and the punishment of those responsible for the downing.

The Russian demands have so far been rejected by Turkey, but Alparslan Celik, a Turkish citizen whom Russia accuses of having killed the pilot, was arrested in the western Turkish city of Izmir on April 3.

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