Twitter faces questions over alleged censorship of journalists' accounts in Turkey

Mahir Zeynalov

Twitter appears to be resisting a court order from the Turkish government to block the account of a journalist.

But according to US-based Mahir Zeylan, while his English-language account remains accessible in Turkey and around the world – a separate Turkish language account has been blocked by the social network.

The social media company was sent an order from the Golbasi Criminal Judgeship of Peace court, based in Ankara, on behalf of Turkey’s Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication earlier this month.

It listed Turkish journalist Mahir Zeynalov (pictured), who writes for the Huffington Post and is based out of Washington DC, among 17 Twitter accounts, 11 blogs, four websites and one Facebook account that have been “allegedly promoting terrorism, violence, and threatening national security and public order”, according to a translation by Motherboard.

Turkey’s media has been facing a  crackdown since the failed attempt to overthrow President Recyyp Taripp Erdogan on 15 July.

So far at least 131 media organisations have been closed down and 89 detention warrants issued for journalists, of whom more than 50 have been jailed. 

Twitter contacted Zeynalov about the order on Friday. Yesterday he took to Twitter revealing his Turkish language account had already been blocked by the platform a month earlier.

He said: “Twitter told me that it will block my account at the request of Turkey for ‘instigating terrorism’ putting an end to my ~7-year reporting.

“This is a farewell message to my followers in Turkey. Love it or loathe it, I always believed in what I wrote and will continue to do so.”

He added: “I am one of more than a hundred Turkish journalists whose verified accounts are withheld as part of Ankara’s relentless censorship campaign.”

Twitter would not comment on the matter, however Press Gazette has seen the message the firm sent to Zeynalov.

In it the company says: “We have received the court order regarding your Twitter account. Twitter has not taken any action on the reported account at this time.

“One of our core values is to defend and respect the user’s voice. Accordingly, we may consider filing petition of objection if we find that there is an appropriate legal basis to do so.

“If you intend to file an objection to this order in the Turkish courts, please reply immediately to let us know.”

So far Press Gazette’s understands that his English language account remains viewable in Turkey.

Zeynalov told Motherboard that despite the company’s resistance, he expects his account to be censored.

“Twitter may block the account any minute now,” he said. “At this point, I am hoping that Twitter appeals the decision. Or at least they could refuse to comply with Turkey’s demand.”

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