Independent journalist Mahir Zeynalov said in a tweet that Twitter will block his account to users in Turkey at the request of Turkish authorities for “instigating terrorism.”
“Twitter told me that it will block my account at the request of Turkey for ‘instigating terrorism,’ putting an end to my 7-year reporting,” Zeynalov tweeted on Monday. His tweet had soon gone viral, was retweeted by 3,328 followers and liked by 1,535 users.
Twitter’s decision has sparked outrage in social media. A tremendous display of support was shown by Zeynalov’s international followers who questioned Twitter’s yielding to the censorship request from Turkish authorities.
“Scandalous. #Zeynalov is among a diminishing number of voices to be trusted from #Turkey. Shame on @twitter for complicity in #censorship,” journalist Mark Blacklock tweeted in support.
Zeynalov, a former Today’s Zaman reporter, was deported from Turkey in February 2014 after posting a tweet critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.
“@twitter Please explain. Do you think journalism is terrorism? #JournalismIsNotACrime,” the Committee to Protest Journalists (CPJ) tweeted in its criticism of Twitter’s move.
Zeynalov is one of the most active users of Twitter and has 131,000 followers from all over the world. His in-depth chronicle of the crackdown against media and jailed journalists commanded the attention of international media after a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.
“@Twitter blocks account of journalist @MahirZeynalov in #Turkey for ‘instigating terrorism.’ He was reporting on journos jailed by #Erdogan,” journalist Carl Nassman tweeted.
“Another reason the EU should insist on amending Turkey’s overbroad ‘terrorism’ definition as a requirement for visa liberalization,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth tweeted. His critical tweet recalled the dispute between Ankara and Brussels over Turkey’s vague anti-terrorism laws.
“This is crazy. Erdogan simply can’t accept free speech & public debate. He’s taking Turkey further & further down the authoritarian path,” HRW European Media Director Andrew Stroehlein said on his Twitter account.
“Why is Twitter blocking @MahirZeynalov, who has been chronicling Turkey’s shameful crackdown on the press? He’s one of the few who can speak,” Jason Fagone tweeted.
“This is an absolute disgrace @twitter @TwitterMENA. If you block @MahirZeynalov I will stop using you and encourage everybody to do same,” Frank Kane, a Dubai-based national reporter, tweeted to stand in solidarity with Zeynalov.