Turkey detains 24 people over social media comments on Syria, ministry says

  • World
  • Monday, 22 Jan 2018

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police have detained 24 people for allegedly "spreading terrorist propaganda" on social media related to Ankara's military operation against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, the interior ministry said on Monday.

Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" over the weekend, pushing into the Afrin region to dislodge the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG and opening a new front in the seven-year-old Syrian civil war.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-old insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.

President Tayyip Erdogan has overseen a sweeping crackdown since a failed coup in 2016 that critics say has unjustly targeted pro-Kurdish politicians. Leaders of Turkey's largest pro-Kurdish party, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), are in jail on terrorism charges, which they deny.

The interior ministry did not give details on the arrests. However, state-run Anadolu news agency earlier said prosecutors in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir had issued arrest warrants for 17 people who shared material "to provoke citizens of Kurdish origin and encourage them to go into the streets".

Police seized a pump-action rifle, a pistol and ammunition in related raids in Diyarbakir, Anadolu said.

The moves come after Turkish police used pepper gas to disperse pro-Kurdish protesters in Ankara and Istanbul on Sunday, detaining at least 12 people.


Authorities were also investigating social media posts about the military operation allegedly made by two HDP lawmakers, including a post from the party's spokesman, Ayhan Bilgen, Anadolu said.

It said Bilgen was being investigated for allegedly stirring enmity and hatred for tweeting that Ankara's attack on Afrin could lead to civil war.

"An operation by Turkey against Afrin, without there being an attack from there, will lead the country towards civil war if it is successful and will lay the groundwork for a coup if it is unsuccessful," he said on Twitter on January 13.

Erdogan on Sunday warned supporters of the HDP, parliament's third-largest party, not to demonstrate against the military operation, saying security forces would be "on their necks" if they did.

More than 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed coup in July 2016, and 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. The government says the moves were necessary given the security threats Turkey faces.

Freedom House, a Washington-based watchdog, downgraded Turkey to "not free" from "partly free" in an annual report this month.

(Editing by David Dolan, editing by Larry King)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In World

Policeman killed, more than 80 students abducted in attack on Nigerian school
Gunmen kidnap more than 80 students from Nigerian school -teacher
Amid pandemic, number of people forced to flee homes has risen, says U.N.
Japan Inc joins COVID-19 vaccination push as Olympics loom
U.S. suspects 4,000 cases of fraud in Iraqi refugee program -documents
New Zealand PM Ardern gets 'pain-free' COVID vaccine shot
U.S. says delivered one million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada on Thursday
Sydney reinstates masks to contain Delta COVID-19 variant
Polls open in Iran election, Khamenei calls for high turnout
Swiss verdict due in Liberia war crimes trial for rape, cannibalism

Stories You'll Enjoy