Main opposition Akel sought to keep up pressure on the government on Monday over an apparently wrong police raid at a private citizen’s home after Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis reported a parody account of her on Twitter.
The case sparked an outcry as ordinary people and legal experts questioned the police’s zeal and ease with which the force secured a search warrant and seized electronic devices from the home of a teacher in Larnaca, whom they thought was behind the account when apparently she had no links. Yiolitis was accused of abusing power and wasting resources on a trivial matter.
“Mrs Yiolitis’ case is extremely serious, and we will not let it close unless convincing answers are given,” Akel spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said.
His party has already submitted the matter for discussion in parliament where Yiolitis and other officials will be invited to explain their actions.
“Citizens ought to know if at some moment the police will storm into their home and seize their computers if they criticise or satirise the government and its ministers,” Stephanou said.
Late last month, police searched the home of the woman in connection with a complaint filed by Yiolitis after the ‘Lady Emily Kardashian Duchess of Yiolou’ parody account appeared on Twitter, posting a photo of the minister’s father with commentary that was deemed offensive.
The account, which says that it is a “parody account of Emily Kardashian Yioliti, Fashion Icon, Rich Lawyer, Instagram Influencer, Socialite, ex EAC Chairman & Minister of Justice, Banana Republic,” is still up.
The woman whose house police searched, seizing her computers, issued a statement through her lawyer denying any involvement. The computers were returned, as the minister said the case was closed and she had no intention of starting civil proceedings.
Police defended their actions, arguing that they followed due process. The force said the account in question had overstepped the ethical line as regards critique, touching upon the minister’s personal data.
The debate was reignited over the weekend after lawyer Michalis Paraskevas posted photos of the sworn statement given by police to the court to secure the search warrant.
Observers suggested the warrant should have never been granted by the court.
The statement said officers were investigating forgery and private data offences, but it also clearly refers to a parody account on social media.
Netizens also criticised the judge who granted the warrant.
Akel said the minister should not have sought the police’s intervention, which it said was abuse of her authority.
“Instead of hiding, the minister should respond,” Stephanou said. “And the police are obliged to provide convincing answers about the excessive zeal they displayed, as well as their legally dubious actions to search a house and seize a computer in a bid to locate the owner of a parody account.”
The party suggested the case was just another instance of the general arrogance and authoritarianism that characterises the Anastasiades-Disy administration.
“The government not only undermines any institutions it failed to control, but it now tries to gag citizens, freedom of expression, even satire.”