Turkish gov’t prosecutes 285 people over social media posts in a week

The Turkish government has investigated 349 social media accounts and taken legal action against 285 users over the last week (Sept.24-Oct.1) on accusations of disseminating propaganda for alleged “terrorist organizations,” the Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday.

“Legal action has been taken against 285 people and 349 social media accounts that propagandize for terrorist organizations, promote these organizations, openly declare that they are affiliated with terrorist organizations, incite people to enmity and hostility, insult state authorities, make attempts against the state’s indivisible integrity and the safety of society or engage in hate speech,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, four social media personalities were detained on Monday by Turkish police on accusations of promoting drug use in their works, according to a report by online news outlet T24. They were later released pending trial.

Blogger and former Hürriyet daily columnist Pınar Karagöz (also known as Pucca), YouTube video blogger Ali Muhsin Atam and rap artists Şamil Kürşad Oymak (aka Şam) and Burak Aydoğduoğlu (aka Burry Soprana), who distribute their songs on YouTube, were detained in İstanbul as the police were searching for suspects on similar accusations in four other cities.

In June, Karagöz’s father’s house was raided by Turkish police over one of her social media posts as part of a counterterrorism operation, but she was not detained at the time.

In her post, she wrote, “I am a servant of Batı,” referring to her son Batı (which means “West” in English); however, the official complaint to the police said that particular tweet was “evidence” of her working as a spy for Western countries.

In May a famous Turkish rapper Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, known as Ezhel, was arrested on accusations of promoting drug use in his songs, which were mostly written about poverty and ghetto life in Ankara. For many observers, Ezhel’s arrest was also political since he has been a fierce critic of the current Turkish government.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on July 21, police teams under the command of the cybercrime unit have determined the existence of 126,000 social media accounts related to alleged terrorist organizations in the last two years.

The report said about 50,000 out of 68,000 profiled social media accounts that allegedly posted pro-coup messages in the wake of a coup bid in July 2016 belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to the report, 17,000 of the social media accounts are allegedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while a thousand of them are said to be connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

It was also claimed that 60 percent of social media posts believed to be supportive of “terrorist organizations” have been made by alleged members of the Gülen movement. The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has labeled the pacifist Gülen movement as a “terrorist organization,” calling it “FETÖ.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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