Turkey arrests 39 people for social media activities in one week

Students chant slogans and hold placards in front of the Bogazici University in Istanbul during a protest. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

Authorities detained 39 people for their social media posts in the first week of February, the Turkish Interior Ministry said today in a statement on its website.

According to the statement the cybercrimes department of the Turkish National Police has been monitoring the Internet 24/7 and investigated 1,264 social media accounts for “spreading terrorist propaganda.”

Operations against social media users critical of the government intensified in the aftermath of ongoing protests against the appointment of a pro-government rector to Boğaziçi University by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last Sunday university student Beyza Buldağ was arrested for “inciting hatred and enmity in the public” and “provoking criminal activity” from the “Boğaziçi Solidarity” Twitter account which she allegedly managed.

Buldağ was detained in İzmir and taken to İstanbul, where she was arrested.

Another student, Muhammed Ünal, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was also arrested in İstanbul yesterday for showing solidarity with the Boğaziçi University protests from his social media account.

Many journalists and activists critical of the government have condemned the recent arrest of the two students.

Critics slammed the appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector of Boğaziçi University, saying he is not qualified for the job and that a government-appointed rector undermined the academic independence of the university.

More than 500 students and their supporters were detained in İstanbul and Ankara in increasingly violent and politically charged altercations with the police last week. Ten students have been arrested, while 24 were put under house arrest.

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