Kurdish issue expert detained by Turkish gov’t over tweets despite he has no social media account

An author known for his work on Kurdish issue was briefly detained on the grounds his tweets were evidence that he “was a member of an armed terror organisation,” but later released after it was proved he did not have any social media accounts, reported by Turkish online news outlet Gazete Duvar.

According to a report by online news outlet Ahval, İsmail Beşikçi has spent a total of 17 years and two months in prison since his first incarceration in 1971.

“Şırnak chief prosecutor’s office began an investigation into İsmail Beşikçi in 2016 over tweets on social media under Beşikçi’s name and issued an arrest warrant on charges of being a member of an armed organisation,” Beşikçi’s lawyer Levent Kanat was quoted as saying.

“A search at his house was carried out yesterday while he was away, and today he was detained. He was released after he gave his testimony. The investigation is being carried out by Ankara chief prosecutor’s office anti-constitutional crimes investigation bureau.”

Kanat also said Beşikçi did not have any social media accounts.

Beşikçi, criticised propaganda for the official ideology and sanctions aimed at academia in general and Kurdish society specifically in his academic works.

Wednesday’s detention of Besikci was the first since 1999 when he was freed from jail. Though in 2005, 2007, and 2010 he faced various trials for writings critical of the army and defense of Kurdish people’s right to self-determination. He has in total received over 100 years of imprisonment and fines of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars since the early 1970s because of his intellectual dissent from the Turkish state.

He was dismissed from Atatürk University in Erzurum Province in 1970 where he got his Ph.D. before serving as an assistant professor. In the aftermath of the 1971 military coup, his lengthy ordeal in Turkish courthouses and jails began. Authorities banned 36 of 42 books he penned, before the relative liberalization of the 2000s initiated at the behest of the European Union to which Turkey still has a bid for membership.

Turkish government has investigated more than 39,000 social media users and detained more than 3,000 social media users and Turkish courts have arrested over 1,000 of them, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.

The report stated that police have conducted technical investigation about 16,000 of these social media accounts. Then, they have launched legal investigations for 9,600 of these social media users. As a result of these legal investigations police units detained over 3,000 social media users and transfered them to the courts. At least 1,000 of these detainees were arrested by Turkish courts.

Moreover, scores of people in Turkey have been detained or arrested or are under investigation on allegations of insulting Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over their social media posts. As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media.

A total of 1,080 people were convicted of insulting Erdoğan in 2016, according to data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Data also showed that 4,936 cases were launched against people on charges of insult in 2016.

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