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US State Dept. says Turkey invokes counterterrorism laws to criminalize freedom of expression

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In its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2019” released this week, the US State Department said Turkey has a broad definition of terrorism and that the government regularly invoked its counterterrorism laws to criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other human rights, according to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).

As an example of how broadly the terrorism law has been used, the report cited Turkish Ministry of Interior data on the referral of more than 10,000 social media accounts to judicial authorities for alleged terrorism-related propaganda in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

The annual report details key developments in the global fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al Qaeda, Iranian proxies and other international terrorist groups.

Similar to previous years, the report states that the United States does not consider the faith-based Gülen movement inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen a terrorist organization.

The report underlines that Turkish citizens and foreign residents, including US citizens and locally employed staff of US missions, were detained and arrested on charges of alleged links to the Gülen movement based on scant evidence and minimal due process.

On June 11, 2020 an İstanbul court sentenced US Consulate General staff member Metin Topuz to eight years, nine months in prison for aiding and abetting the movement.

Turkey has been conducting a large-scale crackdown targeting the alleged followers of the movement since the failed coup with investigating more than half a million people.

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