Last update: 22-Jan-2021
20 January 2021:
Turkey pressures social media with ad bans, Twitter in jeopardy
Turkey on Tuesday hit Twitter, Pinterest and Periscope with advertising bans after they refused to follow Facebook and appoint a local representative to take down contentious posts under a controversial new law described by critics as aimed to censure free expression. Freedom of speech defenders view the new regulations as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempt to control social media and clamp down on dissent.
Continued failure to comply could jeopardise Twitter’s future in Turkey, which the platform lists as one of the top three countries — along with China and Russia — requesting the removal of posts. New rules that went into force in October require networks with more than one million unique daily users to appoint an envoy to handle court orders to remove offending content within 48 hours. Read the full article
27 detained due to social media posts about alleged child abuse case in SE Turkey
Turkish police have detained 27 people over social media posts about the case of a 15-year-old girl in southeastern Batman province who was allegedly sexually abused by 27 men including public officials, according to Turkish media reports.
The incident reportedly took place in Gercüş, and the girl, who was allegedly sexually abused by military officers, village guards and policemen, has been found to be pregnant after she was hospitalized due to stomach pain.
Two individuals were detained as part of an investigation into the incident, and one of them has been arrested. Although there are 27 suspects in the case, the names of only 11 are mentioned in the investigation, and none of them is a public official.
The 27 people who were detained on Monday are accused of spreading disinformation on social media regarding the incident in line with the goals of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. Read the full article
Turkey fines social media giants for second time as they refuse to observe controversial law
Turkey has again imposed fines, this time TL 30 million ($3.8 million) each, on social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to comply with a new social media law that tightens control over social media by requiring platforms to name a representative in Turkey, according to a government official who spoke to Bloomberg.
The second round of fines was imposed since the companies have not appointed representatives within the required period of time.
Social media companies Instagram, Periscope and TikTok have also been levied an identical fine. The companies were slapped with a fine of TL 10 million ($1.17 million) on Nov. 4 for the same reason. Only one Russian social media company, VKontakte (VK), has appointed a local representative to Turkey so far. Read the full article
Turkey starts to issue fines to social media giants for non-compliance with new law
Social network providers who have not complied with Turkey’s new social media law, have been issued with 10 million TL ($1.17 million) fines on Wednesday, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported.
Many international companies have refused to comply with the restrictive new law which requires them to appoint a legal representative in Turkey. Companies including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok have not appointed a representative and have been fined by Turkish authorities.
The President of Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), Ömer Fatih Sayan, said escalating penalties are under way unless they comply with the obligation.
If the social media companies still do not comply after another 30 days, a fine of 30 million TL can then be imposed, news channel NTV said. “Only the Russian VK decided to comply so far. Facebook indirectly announced that they will not be coming to Turkey under the current circumstances. The others continue to keep silent. Read the full article
Turkey's broadcast watchdog issues warnings to Spotify, others to comply with new law
Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog has issued a warning to four social media platforms, urging the companies to apply for licensing as part of forming a formal presence in the country in accordance with a new law.
Spotify, FoxPlay, Medyaport TV and Paylas FM have 72 hours to apply for a licence in the country, in accordance with the social media law, Duvar news site cited the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) as saying on Monday.
Should the companies fail to submit their licensing applications within the next three days, RTÜK will domestically block access to the platforms, Duvar said.
Turkey passed a bill in July requiring social media companies with more than 1 million daily users in the country to appoint local representatives, comply with state content removal requests and store user data locally by October, or else face steep hefty fines and local access blocks.
Critics see the move as part of Ankara’s plans to silence one of the few remaining platforms for freedom of expression in the country.
Social media giant Facebook made headlines earlier this month, when Turkish internet rights activist Yaman Akdeniz, citing sources from the company, said it would not comply with the social media law.
RTÜK has specifically targeted Spotify due to its hosting of podcasts, according to former RTÜK board member and media ombudsman Faruk Bildirici.
The broadcasting watchdog is aiming to "police thoughts at full speed,’’ Bildirici said on Twitter. "They have an allergy against free arenas.’’
The majority of Turkey's mainstream media has come under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government control, especially after the 2016 coup attempt, prompting Turks to take to social media and smaller online news outlets for critical voices and independent news.
Facebook, Instagram to defy Turkey’s new social media regulations
Facebook and Instagram have announced they will defy Turkey’s new social media regulations that took effect October 1, a human rights activists said on Monday.
“Facebook has decided not to assign a representative to Turkey [which is a requirement] under the new social media law. Let me announce it to those [Turkish authorities] who were assuming that they [Internet platform companies] would [comply with the rules] whether they liked them or not,” Yaman Akdeniz said on Twitter.
A prominent cyber rights expert and academic, Akdeniz said it was not speculation but an announcement as Facebook had directly informed him and was announcing its decision to nongovernmental organizations in the country. Akdeniz further claimed that Instagram would follow Facebook’s approach as well.
It remains to be seen how the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government will react and whether other giant companies, such as Twitter and Google, will follow the same path as Facebook and Instagram.
The activist said the decisions of Facebook and Instagram would surely influence other Internet platform companies.
Akdeniz went on to say the law had been approved so quickly in the Turkish parliament that no consultation was carried out with stakeholders, a situation posing serious risks in terms of basic rights and freedoms in the country.
“I was hoping that they would decide in this way. I don’t think it was easy because there are business interests [in Turkey for Facebook]. … It will be a major blow to Turkey’s plan to control social media,” the Financial Times (FT) quoted Akdeniz as saying.
The new law was approved in only 10 days by parliament in July, shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that he would either control or completely shut down social media platforms over “immoral content” following insults on Twitter that targeted his daughter Esra and son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
The bill requires platform companies with more than a million daily active users in Turkey to maintain a formal presence in the country by appointing a local representative who will be accountable to Turkish authorities. The companies will also be required to store user data locally, raising privacy concerns as it means they will be providing prosecutors with user data when required. In addition, they will have to remove content deemed offensive within 48 hours without a local court decision but based on reports by social media users who believe the disputed content violates their rights.
The decisions of Facebook and Instagram could result in sanctions, including fines of up to 40 million Turkish lira ($5.1 million) and a slowing of bandwidth by as much as 90 percent, which means in effect inaccessibility to the websites for 83 million people living in the country.
According to FT, Facebook declined to comment on its decision. Twitter also declined when approached for comment on whether it would follow Facebook. As for Google’s YouTube, it did not immediately return calls for comment. The newspaper could not reach the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) for comment late on Monday.
Facebook claims to have 37 million users in Turkey and runs its Turkey-related services from its London office.
Access to online platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, has been temporarily blocked many times in Turkey since 2014, usually after incidents such as mass demonstrations or terrorist attacks as well as a coup attempt in 2016.
Turkey was one of the few countries where access to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia was entirely blocked. Turkish authorities lifted a two-and-a-half-year ban on Wikipedia following a ruling by the Constitutional Court earlier this year.
Restrictive social media regulations enter into force in Turkey
Turkey’s new regulations regulating social media took effect on October 1, with tighter restrictions and control over platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and potential risks for dissidents in the country.
With the new law, Internet platforms with more than 1 million daily active users are obliged to open offices in Turkey and to remove content deemed offensive within 48 hours based on local court decisions. The social media companies will also be required to store user data locally, raising privacy concerns as it means they will be providing prosecutors with user data when required.
In the event of noncompliance with the regulation, they will face punitive measures, including the blocking of advertisements, fines of up to 40 million Turkish lira ($5.1 million), and a slowing of bandwidth by up to 90 percent, meaning in effect inaccessibility to the websites.
The new regulations have raised concerns since one of the few remaining spaces for free public debate could be lost in the country, which has already been under the tight control of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
The AKP and its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) ally argue that the law is necessary to protect the public from cybercrime and libel and women from harassment and bullying. Critics, however, raise concerns about broader AKP control over the flow of information and more pressure on dissent.
it remains to be seen whether the social media companies will comply with the new rules or opt to leave the country. Also unclear is whether the regime will be successful in silencing dissent on social media.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s open threats targeting social media date back to the December 17-25, 2013 investigations into corruption, bribery, and bid-rigging, which implicated Erdoğan and his close circle.
In March 2014 access to Twitter was restricted in Turkey hours after Erdoğan threatened to “wipe out” the platform due to leaked recordings posted on Twitter that showed evidence of corruption among his inner circle.
“We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” Erdoğan said at the time.
Since then, the Erdoğan regime has systematically restricted access to websites and content. By the end of 2019 access to 408,000 websites, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos, and 6,200 Facebook posts had been blocked in the country, according to Sevket Uyanik, a privacy rights advocate.
“When this is already the case, imagine what it will be like after October 1,” Uyanik told AFP.
Turkey ranks among the top three countries, along with Russia and Japan, in the number of requests to take down posts in 2019, Twitter said.
The new law was quickly approved by the Turkish parliament in July shortly after Erdoğan warned that he would either control or completely shut down social media platforms over “immoral content” following insults on Twitter that targeted his daughter Esra and son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
Most media outlets in Turkey are already controlled by the AKP – reportedly more than 90 percent of conventional media — thanks to the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates.
Restrictive laws on social media in Turkey due to come into effect
A new law governing social media sites with more than 1 million daily users in Turkey is due to come into effect on October 1. The law requires companies to establish an office or assign a local representative who is accountable to the Turkish authorities both for legal and tax purposes.
The Guardian reported on Sunday that ‘several sources’ told it that “both Facebook and Twitter are considering not going along with the new rules, either seeking to find a compromise with Ankara or relying on their users to switch to using virtual private networks (VPNs) to continue accessing the sites.”
The alternative, of course, would be to give in to Ankara’s new censorship regime and hire an employee or local organisation who could expect to be held accountable for severe legal issues. The social media companies can take comfort from previous Turkish state attempts to block websites like YouTube and Wikipedia - in both cases the Turkish government ended up backing down. Read the full article
Google to open Turkey office in compliance with social media regulations
U.S. technology giant Google is set to open an office in Turkey following Turkish parliament’s approval last month of a bill introducing new powers over social media, T24 new site reported on Wednesday.
The move by Google follows a legal amendment requiring social media companies with more than one million daily users to appoint a legal representative in Turkey to address authorities' concerns over content and requests for removal. Google is the first foreign social media company to open an office in the country, T24 said.
The company has been formally operating in Istanbul’s Levent district since 2005 in a limited capacity under the name Google Advertising and Marketing Limited Co., which will take over the rest of the operations for the company to comply with the new regulations.
According to the new law, passed on July 29, social network providers would have 48 hours to respond to orders to remove offensive content.
14 August 2020:
In a statement released on 14 August 2020, the Interior Ministry said the National Police Cyber Crimes Department and cyber crimes department in provincial police directorates have determined 14,186 social media accounts for alleged illegal activities since 1 January 2020 as a result of their "7/24 cyber patrols". As a result, legal action was brought against 6,743 social media users that the statement said were linked to terrorist organizations including FETÖ, PKK, ISIS and others.
31 July 2020:
The legislation stipulates that social media giants like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and others must implement systems to confirm the ID of their users and appoint a legal representative in Turkey to whom courts can turn to make requests to remove content or provide the identity of users.
"An extremely troubled period will begin for social media network providers who have to have a representative in an authoritarian country. It will be like walking on a tightrope for them," Gergerlioğlu said.
Meanwhile, creating a database that ties social media accounts to official IDs would be very beneficial for Turkish intelligence and courts to access the identities of critics and intimidate the opposition, according to Gergerlioğlu.
"The silenced voices will become even more silenced. This will weaken the opposition on social media," he said. Read the full article
Turkey’s public institutions to devise domestic messaging apps to replace foreign versions
The Turkish Presidency’s Office for Digital Transformation has drafted a regulation for public institutions, forbidding public officials from using foreign-made messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram for official business and ordering institutions to produce domestic apps to replace them, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.
The document gave the institutions 15 months to come up with Turkish-made messaging apps. Their servers will have to be located in Turkey, according to the report.
The presidency previously announced that restrictions on foreign apps would only concern confidential documents and that public officials would be allowed to continue using foreign apps in their private lives.
29 July 2020:
Turkish parliament approves bill imposing tighter controls on social media
The Turkish parliament ratified a bill introducing new powers to control social media early on Wednesday, T24 reported. The bill was passed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has a majority with an allied nationalist party.
With the amendment, social media companies with more than one million users must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to address the authorities' concerns over content and includes deadlines for its removal.
Companies could face fines, blocked advertisements or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90 percent, essentially blocking access. Social network providers would have 48 hours to respond to orders to remove offensive content, T24 said.
The law also imposes fines between 1 million to 10 million lira ($146,165 - $1.5 million) on social media companies who fail to swiftly remove hate speech and other illegal content from their platforms. Read the full article
27 July 2020:
Turkey’s ruling coalition partner calls for block on VPN services ahead of vote on social media bill
Turkey’s ruling coalition partner, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on Monday called for an access ban on virtual private network (VPN) apps used to circumvent banned sites, as part of Ankara’s measures to control social media use.
The Turkish government must take ‘’new and sweeping action against VPNs to prevent access to banned sites and social media platforms,’’ Duvar news site quoted MHP deputy chair Feti Yıldız as saying in a written statement submitted to parliament.
Turkish parliament is preparing this week to vote on a bill that would effectively block a number of social media sites unless they comply with strict new regulations, as part of efforts by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ally MHP to control social media content.
“States must protect society by overseeing the uncontrolled content of the Internet,’’ Yıldız said, calling for international cooperation in working against VPN access to banned platforms. Read the full article
According to the bill, social media companies will be obliged to have an office in Turkey and their representatives will be held accountable in legal affairs.The bandwith of companies that refuse to open an office will be throttled up to 90 percent. Also, social media companies will be asked to store users' data in Turkey.
We have spoken about the bill with Prof. Yaman Akdeniz from the Freedom of Expression Association and Bilgi University lecturer Gökhan Ahi.
Ahi said such a law was not necessary as there have already been court decisions about the violation of private life, personal rights and intellectual and industrial property rights. "A few small changes would be enough to make the system function better, he said, calling the bill "harsh and unmeasured."
"The government has not been able to tolerate criticism about itself for a long time. With this law, it wants to reduce criticism on the internet and social media, as well as to quickly access the identity of users with an anonymous account. It is thought that the way to do this is [social media companies] having a representative in Turkey. Read the full article
Turkey plans crackdown on social media, 50 million-euro fines
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that would press ahead with the government's plans to introduce regulations to control social media platforms or shut them down, after he said his family was insulted online.
The bill stipulates that social media giants like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and others must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to whom courts can turn to make requests to remove content or provide the identity of the users, Hürriyet daily said on Thursday.
The requirement would also mean they could be held financially accountable and pay taxes in Turkey.
Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to effectively end anonymity on social media platforms, with the social media sites expected to implement systems to confirm the ID of their users.
As per the bill, these platforms must also keep their Turkish user data in Turkey.
"The information about people who share online content deemed illegal will be provided by the social media platforms in case the court demands it," said Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his close ties to the AKP.
Meanwhile, the draft law will incur sizeable fines if they fail to comply with Turkish government requests. The bill seeks to impose fines of up to €50 million ($56.4 million) on social media companies that fail to swiftly remove hate speech and other illegal content from their platforms.
Under the proposed law, any illegal content would have to be deleted by the social media companies within 24 hours, similar to German laws on the matter, Hürriyet said.
Erdoğan is seeking the passage of the law to be fast-tracked, effectively before the parliamentary recess on July 15, the anniversary of the failed coup attempt in 2016, according to Selvi.
"The regulation on social media is expected to be brought to the parliament immediately and enacted before July 15," he said.
Erdoğan adviser issues warning on sharing social media posts
Turkish presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun has issued a warning to social media users in Turkey over their posts in an interview with Hürriyet newspaper. Altun said internet users would be held responsible for what they shared on social media under Law 5651 on online crime, and warned them against sharing or liking posts that could be deemed manipulative, provocative, or false.
“Users are responsible for what they share on social media…it is necessary to be careful before you like or share content,” he told Hürriyet. Altun was talking after the recent publication by Turkey’s Communications Directorate of a social media users’ guide.
The communications director said there are now around 54 million social media users in Turkey, and that the guide had been prepared to address issues of responsible use and what he described as the manipulation of platforms by outlawed organisations and people seeking to spread fake news. Read the full article
Twitter account of top opposition official in Istanbul suspended
Twitter suspended on Wednesday the account of Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the Istanbul provincial head of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). While the reason for the move is yet unknown, pro-government media outlet A Haber was quick to report that the prominent opposition official had for some time been "defending terrorist organisations and calling for a coup,’’ in her social media posts.
The outlet shared a Twitter post by Kaftancıoğlu dated May 17, in which she questioned the detention of two Turkish journalists. Another post shared by A Haber dated to June 1, 2013.
"The Gezi Park and Taksim Square once again belong to the people,’’ Kaftancıoğlu wrote. The tweet coincides with the Gezi Park protests, the biggest anti-government protests since Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. "Kaftancıoğlu would take up defending terrorist organisations at every chance she had through Twitter posts and accuse the state of being a "murderer,’’’ A Haber said.
Turkey has detained 402 over ‘provocative’ coronavirus posts since March
Turkey has detained 402 people in the past 42 days for allegedly sharing “false and provocative” social media postings concerning the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Monday, according to The Associated Press.
An Interior Ministry statement said officials have inspected more than 6,000 social media accounts and the 402 suspects were among a total of 855 account-holders sought by authorities for sharing posts deemed to be “provocative.”
A ministry official said the social media users were detained for allegedly attempting to “cause panic” over the coronavirus pandemic with posts that, among other things, accuse the government of not doing enough to curb the outbreak or of lying about the numbers of deaths or infections.
2 April 2020:
Turkish authorities arrest three influential Twitter users on terror charges
Turkish authorities have arrested the owners of three influential government-critical Twitter accounts on terrorism charges, highlighting the country’s latest crackdown on dissent.
Mesut Aykin, who directed a vocal Twitter account called “Türkiye Gerçekleri” (Facts of Turkey), was detained in Istanbul and taken to Ankara for questioning, reported news website Medya Faresi. Aykin was charged with spreading propaganda for the religious movement of Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen movement, dubbed FETÖ by the Turkish government, which is blamed for orchestrating the failed coup d’etat in 2016.
Journalist Oktay Yaşar, the owner of a similarly critical account called Ankara Kuşu (Ankara Bird), and Kulis Kuşu (Backstage Bird) account manager Ümit Kaya were both detained on the same charges on Wednesday, the Sabah daily said. Yaşar’s account, which had more than half a million followers, is currently inaccessible online. Kaya was a consultant for Turkish human rights activist Mehmet Bekaroğlu until recently, pro-government media figure Cem Küçük tweeted.
Ruling party to introduce further measures on social media platforms
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing further measures on social network platforms under an omnibus bill that will come to the parliament’s agenda as part of the struggle against the novel coronavirus.
The bill aims to further regulate the legal responsibilities of social network providers, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and increase control over the content of these platforms.
If the bill is adopted, the social network providers will be legally liable to the Turkish authorities by appointing their representatives in Turkey and if they fail to comply with the requirements, Turkish authorities will be able to limit their access by Turkish users.
The bill, called the “Draft Law on Amendment in Some Laws,” envisages amendments on the “Regulation of Internet Publications and Combating Crimes Committed through These Publications” and is expected to come to parliament next week.
According to the draft bill seen by the Hürriyet Daily News, the social network providers in Turkey or overseas, which have more than one million daily accesses in the country, will have to authorize a representative in Turkey, with the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) or administrative authorities having to send a notification for the fulfillment of the requirements.
Within the scope of the amendment, real and legal persons that enable users to create, share or display content, information or data such as text, images, sound, location for social interaction in the internet environment are defined as “social network provider.”
The social network providers will be obliged to hosting the data of users in Turkey within the country.
The BTK will be able to make an on-site examination or have it done at the scene of the event if it deems it necessary to inspect social network providers. Law enforcement officers and other public institutions will provide “inspection support” to the BTK.
The BTK will be able to take to court to reduce the internet traffic bandwidth of the social network provider by 50 percent if it does not fulfill the obligation to determine and report a representative in Turkey. If the social network provider does not appoint a representative within 30 days despite the judicial decision, the BTK may apply to court to reduce the internet traffic bandwidth of the social network provider by 95 percent.
The social network provider will be obliged to respond to the applications about the contents within 72 hours. If it does not respond, the provider will be fined between 100,000 and one million Turkish Liras. The social network provider will implement the decisions to remove the content reported to it and / or to block access and will report to the BTK quarterly on reports containing statistical and categorical information about these applications.
In the event that the content determined by the judgment or court decision of unlawfulness is reported to the social network provider, if it does not remove the content within 24 hours despite the notification or does not prevent access to the content, the provider will be responsible for the compensation of the damages. If the content is not removed, the social network provider will be punished not only for producing the content but also for its publishing and dissemination.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chair Özgür Özel has said the government wants to control social media platforms with this bill.
“It seems that many communication applications, the most well-known being WhatsApp, will be under the control of the state,” he said at a press conference on April 9 and claimed that the AKP was after “opportunism” in the pretext of the struggle against the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said social media was being used with aims of “misinformation” and to “deceive the public. Speaking in a televised interview on late April 9, Soylu said the government had taken measures against 4,186 social media accounts.
“Some 667 users have been identified and are being detained and a large part of them are unfortunately abroad. So FETÖ, DHKP-C and the PKK are in an effort to create chaos, to undermine confidence and to stir worry in Turkey,” he said.
372 people in Turkey investigated over coronavirus posts, banned behavior
Turkish prosecutors have launched investigations into 372 people due to their social media posts or behavior that violates prohibitions aimed at controlling the spread of the new coronavirus, the tr724 news website reported.
As part of the investigations, three people have been arrested and three others have been indicted, while 21 of them have been released from detention on judicial probation.
These people face charges of spreading disinformation about the outbreak on social media, engaging in humiliating behavior towards elderly people, failing to comply with the rules of quarantine and stockpiling goods.
Turkey imposed a curfew on people over the age of 65 to mitigate the outbreak. In videos posted on social media, some young people were seen making fun of elderly people who they see in public, falsely claiming that they will spread the coronavirus.
Accordingly, 91 social media accounts were detected and proceedings were started against them as of this morning. It has been further announced that the works of examination and detection still continue. Later in the day today, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has announced that an investigation has been launched into the messages posted on social media following the Idlib attack.
In a written statement released by the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, it has been announced that "an ex officio investigation has been launched into the videos, pictures and posts allegedly featuring the soldiers martyred in the heinous attack in Syria's Idlib province and shared on social media in a provocative manner which is contrary to facts."
According to the statement, the related social media users are facing the possible charges of "inciting the public to enmity and hatred", "provoking to disobey the laws" and "propagandizing for a terrorist organization."
The General Directorate of Security announced on 9 October 2019 that it launched legal procedure against 78 individuals who posted critical comments on social media about Turkey’s latest military operation on northern Syria.
A day later, Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir announced that criminal investigations on the allegations of “terrorism propaganda,” “denigrating the government of the Turkish Republic” and “praising crime and criminals” were launched against a number of social media users and news outlets posting critical commentary about the operation on social media.
On 11 October 2019, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that legal procedures were launched against a total of 500 individuals who posted critical comments about the operation and 121 among them were taken into custody.
Two others were jailed pending trial over the weekend in Kocaeli after being taken into custody in Darıca and Gebze on allegations of “incitement to hatred and animosity through terrorism propaganda” on account of their social media posts about the operation.
Turkey arrests 34 critics of Turkish incursion into Syria
More than 200 people have been detained while 34 have been arrested for criticizing on social media or protesting a Turkish military incursion into northern Syria, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Turkey launched its long-planned Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 aimed at taking out the Kurdish forces it sees as terrorists but which most of the West views as key partners in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. The Turkish military operation began days after a surprise and widely criticized White House announcement that US forces would withdraw from the region.
Between Oct. 9 and Oct. 17, Turkish courts ruled to arrest on charges of terrorism 34 people across the country who criticized the Syria incursion from their social media accounts or staged a protest against it. Among the more than 200 who were detained for the same reason, some were released on judicial probation, meaning that they need to regularly check in at a police station.
Turkey arrests 24 social media users for ‘smear campaign’ against Syria incursion
Turkish courts have arrested 24 social media users since the beginning of Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria on Oct. 9 on charges of conducting a “smear campaign” against the military offensive, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
A total of 186 users have been detained thus far, the report indicated, adding that 40 of them were released pending trial, while the remaining 124 were still in police custody.
Cyber units under Turkey’s Interior Ministry have been conducting online patrolling to identify social media posts that would be considered criminal activity, the report added.
Police have detained 11 people in Izmir, western Turkey, over social media posts criticising the military operation launched this week against Kurdish-led groups in northeast Syria, Islamist daily Yeni Şafak reported on Friday. The Izmır police department detained people suspected of using social media to “slander Operation Peace Spring, make propaganda for a terrorist organisation” and act against Turkey’s security forces, the newspaper said.
The Turkish military launched Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Democratic Forces and its allies on Wednesday. Ankara views the group as a terrorist organisation due to its links to outlawed Kurdish militant groups in Turkey. On Wednesday, police in Turkey announced that investigations had been launched into 78 people including two journalists over social media posts criticising the military operation.
31 May 2019:
Turkey launches investigation into German journalist over social media accounts
Ankara prosecutors have opened an investigation into German journalist of Turkish descent Süheyla Kaplan, over posts on her social media accounts, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Friday. Three posts she shared on Facebook and Twitter are now subject to investigation for allegedly “insulting the president” and “spreading terrorist propaganda.”
She posted about the Turkish army’s cross-border operation against Kurdish militants in northwestern Syria, a cartoon by now-jailed cartoonist Musa Kart and a series of interviews from an anti-government event held in the German city of Hamburg where Kaplan lives. She became aware of the investigation after the police visited her parents, who live in Ankara.
“As a matter of fact, I was expecting it. I reported exhaustively on the June 24 elections in 2018, and I especially shared news and comments that appeared in the foreign media,” she told DW. “Several trolls forwarded my posts to the police department and pointed to me as a target for the authorities.”
“If I were to go to Turkey, I could be detained and arrested. It may take months of pre-trial detention before I’m indicted and appear before a judge,” she said. “The judiciary is under [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s control. That is why I wish to testify in Hamburg instead.”
2 May 2019: