Turkey arrests popular Twitter users for spreading ‘terrorist propaganda’

Twitter bird gets killed
Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

Turkish authorities on Friday arrested two of the three well-known anonymous Twitter users who were detained on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mesut Aykin, who reportedly runs the popular government-critical Twitter account “Türkiye Gerçekleri” (Turkey Facts), was detained in İstanbul on Thursday for alleged terrorist propaganda and brought to Ankara, according to the pro-government Sabah daily. The police conducted a search of his home, seizing digital material.

The authorities also arrested Oktay Yaşar, the alleged user of the Twitter account “Ankara Kuşu” (Ankara Bird), who was detained on Wednesday, as well as Ümit Kaya, who allegedly runs the account “Dr. Kulis Kuşu” (Backstage Bird) and was detained on Thursday.

The pro-government media said Aykin and Yaşar were investigated for spreading propaganda on behalf of the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government considers a terrorist group responsible for a 2016 coup attempt, allegations strongly denied by the movement.

While no details were revealed about the investigation into Kaya, media reports said he used to be a consultant for Mehmet Bekaroğlu, vice chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Bekaroğlu admitted to knowing Kaya personally but denied he was his consultant.

The Sabah newspaper also said Kaya was working for the “White Desk,” an online information website operated by the opposition-held İstanbul Municipality.

Ankara Kuşu came to prominence for its damaging leaks on the inner workings of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and corruption revelations, the Ahval news website pointed out.

The crackdown on Twitter users comes at a time when the Turkish government has been facing increasing criticism for its handling of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, Ahval said. (turkishminute.com)

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