Turkey has detained a total 150 people for “spreading terrorist propaganda” on social media about its military campaign against a Kurdish militia in Syria since the operation began at the weekend, state media said on Wednesday.
The incursion targets the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG, viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in Turkey‘s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.
Politicians, journalists and activists are among those who have been arrested over their social media posts, according to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second largest opposition party in parliament.
Police have staged operations in 31 provinces, with 11 suspects remanded in custody pending trial and seven people released, state-run Anadolu news agency said, citing police officials. Questioning of the other 132 is continuing, it said.
“Police officials said that social media accounts are being monitored ceaselessly and that all users who spread terror groups’ propaganda will be prosecuted,” Anadolu said.
Ankara has enforced a crackdown since a failed coup in 2016 that critics say has unjustly targeted pro-Kurdish politicians. Some HDP lawmakers have been jailed on terrorism charges, which they deny.
In total, more than 50,000 people have been jailed and face trial since the attempted putsch and 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. The government says the moves were necessary given the security threats Turkey faces.