Turkish gov’t detains 37 people over ‘promoting terrorism’ on social media

Turkish government has detained 37 more people across Turkey on Wednesday over allegedly taking part in an online smear campaign of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its extension in Syria PYD armed groups against Turkey’s ongoing operation in northwestern Syria’s Afrin.

According a report by state-run Anadolu news agency (AA),  27 people were detained during simultaneous raids on Tuesday in Ağrı city and Doğubeyazıt, Diyadin, Patnos and Taşlıçay districts, Ağrı governor’s office said in a statement.

The detainees were accused of participating in a smear campaign against the Afrin operation, promoting terrorism and issuing news releases in favor of the terror group, it added.

In the central province of Eskişehir, 5 people were detained for posting provocative messages on social media. The detainees were accused of inciting enmity and hatred among people.

In Bursa province, a suspect was detained on the same charges and separately, Antalya Governor’s Office announced 4 detentions for promoting the outlawed PYD/PKK group.

Moreover, co-chair of umbrella group Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Leyla Güven, who was detained on Jan. 22, 2018 in southeastern Diyarbakır province on charges of inciting hatred and hostility through propaganda on social media, was put behind the bars on Wednesday.

Journalist Barış Ceyhan, an employee of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi (Libertarian Democracy) newspaper was also detained alongside Hüseyin Gökdemir for opposing Turkey’s operation against Afrin. Ceyhan and Gökdemir were subjected to legal procedures, after which Gökdemir was released, while Ceyhan was remanded in custody for “spreading propaganda for a terror organisation” and “inciting people to hatred and animosity.”

Turkish government has detained a total of 311 people across Turkey for allegedly “spreading terror propaganda” on social media with regards to Turkish military’s intervention in Syria’s Afrin province, according to a written statement made by Turkish Interior Minister on Monday.

Since launching its 12-day-old air and ground offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin, Turkish authorities have warned they would prosecute those opposing, criticizing or misrepresenting the incursion.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and allegedly ISIL terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria. As the operation entered its 12th day, the Turkish General Staff announced that at least 712 militants had been “neutralized” since the beginning of the military operation in 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 oppression and cruelty of terrorists.”

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