Cyprus Mail

Politis the latest victim of social media threats

Costas Constantinou

By Lizzy Ioannidou

Just days after Politis journalist Costas Constandinou received threats to his life via social media, the newspaper itself was a target of an online threat claiming that they would be ‘burnt alive’.

A complaint was filed by Politis newspaper on July 29 against contract soldier Charalambos Zinonos, who threatened to burn them alive through a social media post, following an article dealing with the murder of Turkish Cypriots in Pyla in 1964.

While the racist aspects of the threats can be tackled through an existing law which seeks to combat racism and xenophobia through criminalisation , there are currently no laws to combat online threats and harassment.

These online threats are taking place as two bills are awaiting approval by the attorney-general Costas Clerides, which will make internet threats and incitement to racism criminal offences.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Zinonos’ computers and the mobile phone from which the Politis threat was posted have been examined by the police.

Following the filing of the complaint and the launch of police and National Guard investigations, Politis received another message from Zinonos’ account on July 30, in which he apologised and claimed that the threat was written by someone else using his mobile phone.

This comes just days after Politis journalist Costas Constantinou received a threat to his life through a social media post by someone listening to his radio show in which he discussed the ways the Greek-Cypriots benefitted from the invasion of 1974.

Constantinou recently told the Cyprus Mail that “I usually ignore insults hurled against me but this is out of line. It’s not just hate speech, it is clear (murder) incitement.”

The post was removed and the user left social media networks once the incident was reported.

Though police refuse to comment on the two cases, Constantinou said on Wednesday that “police came and took statements regarding both cases of internet threats on Monday, and they made it clear that they will charge the culprits, regardless of any other factor.”

Constantinou added that the authorities seemed determined to tackle such issues of online harassment.


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