Twitter withholds scores of tweets after Turkish court ruling on journalists

Twitter withholds scores of tweets after Turkish court ruling on journalists

Twitter withholds scores of tweets after Turkish court ruling on journalists Twitter has withheld scores of tweets from Turkish journalists and media outlets, after a court ruling issued over a complaint filed by a judge on the grounds that his personal rights were damaged by a news story shared through the social media platform.

The withheld tweets include those posted by well-known columnists including Nazlı Ilıcak and reporters such as Fatih Yağmur, formerly a correspondent for daily Radikal.

Tweets posted by daily newspaper Bugün and the daily news website are also among the withheld content.

The decision came after the Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace ordered Twitter to block the tweets over a complaint filed by Bekir Altun, the judge of the Istanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace. Altun had claimed in the Jan. 14 petition to the court that a news article shared hundreds of times on Twitter breached his personal rights.

According to the original news story reported by Fatih Yağmur, Altun admitted to having allowed an allegedly illegal wiretapping by the police, before refusing to preside over the subsequent trial as the “plot” was uncovered.

Dozens of high-ranking police officials were detained in simultaneous operations in July 2014, as part of an investigation into accusations against the “parallel state,” a movement allegedly led by the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish government’s ally-turned-nemesis.

According to the arrest warrants, the officers had begun a prank investigation into the so-called “Selam-Tevhid” organization to wiretap 251 unrelated people since 2010. Their trial has been a matter of debate with many of its aspects, including the withdrawal of its first judge, Altun.

Merely sharing news

Many of the withheld tweets had been posted by journalists or news outlets that are allegedly close to or affiliated with the Gülen movement. The tweets merely share the news story posted on various news websites, or quote it by mentioning Altun's decision of withdrawing from the trial.

Speaking to Turkish journalism website Medyatava, Yağmur defended his article, claiming that the judge chose to file a complaint against Twitter to suppress the news from spreading on social media, rather than suing him in court or sending a correction to the newspaper.

“He [Altun] took this path because he knows that there was nothing to correct in the story, and the press prosecutor would not act in the way that he wanted had he filed such a complaint,” he added.

Twitter’s “country withheld content” policy allows the blocking of certain tweets or users of a specific country. 

According to Barış Yarkadaş,’s editor, Twitter asked him if they would like to “voluntarily” delete their tweet, including the link to the news story, to avoid a possible sanction.

“We will object to it and file a counter complaint,” he said, claiming on the website that almost 300 Twitter accounts, mostly of journalists, had been affected by the decision.

Immediately after another Turkish court ruling on Jan. 20, Twitter and Facebook had blocked the accounts of notorious whistleblower Fuat Avni, who leaked the details of a number of police and judicial operations before they happened.