Journalist Says Twitter Blocking His Account for ‘Instigating Terrorism’ at Turkey’s Request

Farewell Tweets were posted Monday morning by journalist Mahir Zeynalov, who said Twitter was blocking his account at the request of the Turkish government.

Zeynalov went on to clarify that the ban would prevent Twitter users in Turkey from seeing messages posted on his account. He also has a Turkish-language account, which was blocked in Turkey last month.

Like many of those arrested during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s post-coup crackdown, Zeynalov has written for Today’s Zamanwhich the UK Guardian notes was “taken over by government-appointed trustees in March and is now strongly pro-Erdogan.”

This was done because Today’s Zaman was linked to the Hizmet movement, whose leader, Fethullah Gulen, lives in the United States. Gulen has been accused of masterminding July’s aborted coup attempt, and the Turkish government has demanded his extradition from the U.S.

Zeynalov used his Twitter account to post photos of the Zaman journalists who were arrested, listing the credentials of each.

“More than 115 journalists have been imprisoned and hundreds more fired since the July 15th coup attempt, while 130 media outlets have been shuttered,” the Irish Times reported last week.

The Irish Times argues that independent investigations into the origins of the coup attempt have been impeded by “the gutting of Turkey’s independent press.” Critics of the Erdogan regime would call that a feature, not a bug, of the crackdown.

“If you publish anything which has different details than the government’s story, you may be in trouble. So no one would dare to publish a story about what really happened at that night… If the public cannot learn what really did happen, how can they decide for their future?” asked Bulent Mumay, a journalist arrested on July 26th for allegedly assisting a terrorist organization. Mumay said the evidence against him looked suspiciously like the results of a hasty Google search for articles published under his name.

The Irish Times report notes that many of the journalists harassed or imprisoned during the crackdown have tenuous or non-existent links to the Gulenist movement, including a dozen detained Kurdish journalists. Of course, since “Turkish authorities repeatedly conflate Kurdish separatists, ISIS, and Gulen supporters as a united threat,” it’s easy for Erdogan’s government to loop anyone it feels like cracking down upon into that many-headed hydra.


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