Turkey detains 24 accused of false and provocative coronavirus posts

Turkish authorities have arrested 24 four people accused of posting false and provocative statements on social media about the coronavirus outbreak, the Turkish Interior Ministry said late on Tuesday.

The ministry said on Twitter a total of 137 suspects had been identified, 24 detained and that investigations and detentions would be ongoing. It was not immediately clear what crime those arrested would be charged with, but Turkey has a range of catch-all laws on its statute books that have been used to quell dissent.

The Interior Ministry said this week that some social media posts had been targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the coronavirus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.

Turkey announced on Tuesday the country’s first death from coronavirus and reported 51 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 98.

The Turkish government introduced new measures to halt the spread of the virus, suspending congregational prayers at mosques and closing restaurants, cafes, movie theatres, wedding and event venues. Flights from a total of 20 countries have been banned.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Monday that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would announce financial and economic measures to combat the impact of the coronavirus this week. He is due to chair a meeting of ministers and senior officials on Wednesday.