Reactions mount over Bozdağ’s Twitter remarks

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdag gives a speech during a press conference as the cabinet meeting continues in Ankara, Turkey on July 24, 2017. Mehmet Murat Onel / Anadolu Agency

Deputy Prime Minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ has been criticized on social media for saying that “nobody has been arrested in Turkey for tweeting.”

“Arrested due to Twitter, this is a very big perception operation. Is there one person who has been arrested because of tweeting in Turkey? No,” said Bozdağ during a meeting with Ankara representatives of newspapers and television channels on Monday.

While Bozdağ denied arrests based on tweets, according to an Interior Ministry statement on Aug. 7, 2016, 3,710 people have been the subject of legal proceedings and 1,656 were arrested between March and August 2016 due to social media posts when Bozdağ was minister of justice.

Referring to Bozdağ’s statements, Executive Editor of the Cumhuriyet daily Oğuz Güven, who was arrested on May 15, 2017 on charges of terrorist propaganda from his Twitter account, said: “Even though there was no crime element and I deleted it after 52 seconds due to a missing word, I was imprisoned for 32 days.”

In addition to many journalists who are jailed due to social media posts, fashion designer Barbaros Şansal was arrested on Jan. 4, 2017 on accusations of creating indignation in the public with social media posts.

Journalist Hüsnü Mahalli, pianist Dengin Ceyhan, university students Gizem Yerik and Ali Gül, teacher Fırat Erdem and many others were arrested due to insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter.

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