Turkish government has detained a total of 449 people so far for allegedly “spreading terror propaganda” on social media about Turkish operation in Syria’s Afrin region, according to a written statement made by Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday.
The ministry has reported that after examining 934 social media accounts, the Turkish police’s cybercrime division launched legal proceedings against 260 suspects across Turkey between Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2018.
Turkish government has so far detained 573 people for social media posts and protests criticizing its military offensive in Syria, the government said on Monday. “Since the start of Operation Olive Branch, 449 people have been detained for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media and 124 people detained for taking part in protest action,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Turkey last month launched an air and ground offensive, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region. Authorities have repeatedly warned they would prosecute those opposing, criticizing or misrepresenting the incursion.
The detentions came after Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lambasted those who have criticised the Afrin operation. Following Erdoğan’s speech Turkish police have detained hundreds of people.
Last week, a prosecutor ordered the detention of 11 senior members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), including its chairman, after the organization criticized the incursion, saying: “No to war, peace immediately.” Erdoğan criticized the TTB members as traitors. Detention orders were issued for another 13 people for supporting the medics. Three of the doctors were later released on probation, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.
“There are laws that prohibit the glorification of terrorism, support for terrorism through propaganda and media. The prosecutors are implementing the laws,” Erdogan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, told reporters in İstanbul at the weekend.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” to clear PYD/PKK and allegedly ISIL terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as “to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.”