15:09 GMT14 August 2020
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    Turkey is investigating 10,000 social media users suspected of supporting terrorism online and has arrested more than 1,000, the country's Interior Ministry announced December 24.

    The crackdown, which comes amid ongoing purges of those suspected of supporting this summer's coup attempt, is causing concern among rights groups and some allies. The country has formally arrested 1,656 people for supporting terrorist organizations or insulting officials over social media, the ministry said in the same announcement.

    Some 10,000 are under investigation at the moment. Legal action has been taken against 3,710 people in total, with 767 released, 1,203 people released on probation and 84 still in detention, AP reports. They have been charged with provoking hatred, praising terrorist groups, spreading terrorist propaganda, declaring allegiance to terrorist groups, insulting statesmen, undermining the state and threatening the safety of citizens.

    After the failed coup attempt in July, Turkey declared a state of emergency. Since then, 100,000 people have been fired or suspended from their jobs, and the investigations continue. Despite international alarm, Ankara has said the measures are necessary given the threat it faces from Islamic terrorist groups and Kurdish militias.

    More than 150 media outlets have been shut down since the coup attempt and 140 journalists arrested, Reuters reports.

    Social media websites were shut down briefly December 22 after a video was released by Daesh that claimed to show two Turkish soldiers being burned alive. Many websites were also temporarily blocked after the December 10 explosions in Istanbul that killed dozens of police officers.

    The Turkish government says it does not block access to websites, Reuters reports, but instead blames outages on usage spikes. Internet watchdog groups disagree.

    December has been a tragic month in the country, as terrorists have targeted police and soldiers through car bomb attacks in Istanbul and Kayseri. Forty-four were killed in a shooting and bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in June, and 50 were killed in a suicide bombing at a wedding in August.

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    Tags:
    internet, Freedom of Press, terrorism, social media, Turkey
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