Turkey takes legal action against 259 in a week for social media posts

Turkish authorities have taken legal action against 259 people in the space of one week for social media posts they said had supported terrorism and threatened the state, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry said 783 social media accounts had been investigated for having “propagandised and praised a terrorist organisation, openly declared that they are in relation with terrorist organisations, incited the public to enmity and hatred, insulted state officials, targeted the indivisible integrity of the state and the life safety of people, and engaged in hate speech”.

The ministry detained 648 people for criticising Turkey’s military operation in Syria on social media and 197 people for participating in protests or expressing solidarity to protestors between Jan. 20 and Feb. 28, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Some of the police raids and criminal investigations are being used as a form of punishment rather than out of genuine belief that criminal behaviour has occurred,” HRW said. Police investigations and criminal proceedings may result in losing employment and facing social exclusion, even if the cases are later dismissed or end in acquittal, it said.